Drug laundering in businesses in Montpellier: eight defendants judged to be well protected from greetings – MSteka

Drug laundering in businesses in Montpellier: eight defendants judged to be well protected from greetings

The president of the criminal court and the prosecution requested this Monday, February 12, behind closed doors to judge the suspects of a major drug trafficking with considerable profits, reinvested according to the prosecution in an opaque manner in tobacconists, grocery stores and real estate, in Montpellier and in Dubai. A measure justified by “the fear of reprisals and “to ensure the safety of all”, to the detriment of public information on this sensitive topical subject, and while a former temporary employee of the judicial court is on the bench. warned.

Companies with “multiple sources of hidden income, in order to artificially increase their accounting results”irregularities “so numerous that they sign a carefully thought out and intentionally organized system”: the investigation carried out in 2021 and 2022 by a Montpellier investigating judge made it possible to unravel a mystery rarely revealed in Montpellier, by deciphering the money laundering mechanisms of dealers. And by achieving the interpenetration between the clandestine world of cocaine and cannabis traffickers and that of the official economy.

A nebula of family companies

Tobacco shops, grocery stores, apartments, houses in Montpellier as in Dubai: according to the order of reference of the investigating judge, that Free Midday was able to consult, the family of Mourad Dhrif, 36 years old, employee of a tobacconist, Cours Gambetta, belonging to his brother, and owner of a grocery store on Avenue du Père-Soulas and numerous real estate properties, would be at the heart of a nebula of companies, where funds of suspicious origin would be re-injected : “traces of cocaine were found on 42% of the tickets” seized at his home, compared to 3% on average, writes the judge.

“Coke is magnificent”

To understand, the PJ sounded the car and apartment of a trafficker, Mohamed Labidi, 42, followed the suspects, who spend their vacations in Marbella or Dubai, and increased the number of visits to the Gély city and at Marels, the two biggest deal points in Montpellier. “The coke has not been worked, it is magnificent” he says in 2021. “There are three times 70,000 in the apartment” his company was disturbed in 2012. Noise of a bill sorter, of a vacuum machine for packaging drugs, of a mixer, “which suggests that he is cutting cocaine”, note the police.

€281,000 in false invoices from a hypermarket

On the commercial side, the police have uncovered the strange practices of Mourad Dhrif’s very official suppliers: a hypermarket in eastern Montpellier established false invoices worth €281,000 between 2020 and 2022, so that he could pay everything in cash. , without being hampered by the legal ceiling of €1000 per purchase. “A service provided to the customer” his sales managers admitted, embarrassed. Ditto for a large surface of tiles, to hide a cash purchase of €48,000, intended for the walls of a family villa in Saint-Gély-du-Fesc.

€10,000 monthly salary for the grocer

This is how, for the police, the grocery store can pay them a monthly salary of €5,000, which is completely official. He then receives another for the same amount from tobacco from Cours Gambetta, whose annual turnover of €4 million would be for the judge “artificially inflated by the injection of funds of illicit origin”. A tobacconist supposed to have 1,300 customers per day, while the sector average oscillates between 600 and 800, and which it suffers “unfair, if not fierce, competition” of selling contraband cigarettes outside his door.

€600,000 for a villa in Dubai

This is how, the prosecution believes, that Mourad Dhrif was able to make a fortune, to the point of considering in 2022, when he was incarcerated, the purchase of a villa for €600,000 in Dubai, a Audi RS6 at €220,000 or a luxury watch at €90,000. The man does not en bloc any trafficking and any money laundering. “The tax administration found nothing to complain about and the fact that the tobacco shop was not seized shows that the money laundering does not hold up” assures Me Phung, who defends him with Me Medico and Me Ferri.

On the dock is also one of his daughters, who holds a master’s degree in criminal law and who was a temporary worker at the judicial court, when the investigation established that she would have acted as a nominee for the purchase of another tobacconist, avenue de Lodève, which she disputes.

A defendant under close police protection

Last intriguing character: Nicole Derouineau, a fifty-year-old who appears free and terrified, despite close police protection: she admitted to spending years traveling the roads of France and Spain to convey the money of many traffickers, while driving of a car equipped with a cache with hydraulic cylinders. “I carried very large sums” she admitted.

Risks of reprisals?

Montpellier residents and the public will know no more: the president of the criminal court, in agreement with the prosecution, declared this Monday, February 12 a very unusual closed session for the four days of the trial, due to “the need to guarantee the serenity of the debates, the fears of reprisals mentioned by certain indictees (sic) and in order to ensure the safety of all.”

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