He had been wanted by French justice for more than a decade. A Caledonian, involved in cocaine trafficking between Brazil, France and Australia for which he was sentenced to a heavy prison sentence, presented himself to the border police in Tontouta to put an end to this interminable run. .

By landing at La Tontouta International Airport, he had at least one certainty. Only one. Backtracking was no longer possible. To the border police officers on duty, this man, looking like an ordinary man, presented himself under his true identity. He who chose to disappear fifteen years ago and to invent a new life to flee justice.

According to our information, a 48-year-old Caledonian, considered an international drug trafficker and sentenced to a heavy seven-year prison sentence by the Marseille Criminal Court, surrendered to the judicial authorities after more than a decade on the run.

Born in 1974 in Nouméa where he spent part of his childhood (before returning there later), this man had been on the run since the gendarmes took a close interest in a cocaine supply and sale network. in bars and nightclubs in the Marseille region (Cassis and Aubagne), between 2007 and 2009. A group of about fifteen people, buyers and dealers, very often drug users themselves, under the supervision of investigators who had concluded, after four years of investigation led by an examining magistrate, to the preponderant role of this Caledonian in the organization and the delivery of the white powder.

Cocaine “in large quantities”

Justice had taken ten years to judge this big case of drug trafficking and criminal association. The 7e Marseille correctional chamber, known for its severity, condemned all the protagonists in July 2019. Seven years in prison had been pronounced against the Caledonian. The heaviest sentence in the case. Him, had already taken off for ten years. He knew he was wanted. From January 2009, he was the subject of a search warrant, transformed into an arrest warrant a year later. Passed out in the wild, he was hiding abroad between Brazil, Europe (Portugal and Italy), Malaysia, Thailand, India and the Philippines. Under false identities? He swears not.

In the judgment of the criminal court, which NC the 1st was able to consult, the forties is accused of having bought a large quantity of cocaine in Brazil, which he imported hidden in batteries or computers to resell it in the region of Marseilles and Australia. The protagonists of this file explained in particular to the investigating judge and at the trial that his good knowledge of chemistry also allowed him to bring cocaine in liquid form, in shower gels, before transforming it into powder once in Metropolitan France. “He appeared to be the one who organized the importation by plane from Brazil”write the magistrates, evoking “his business which could lead him to travel to Brazil, Switzerland, Holland and Italy”. It appears from the statements of his relatives that once he returned with two kilos of pure cocaine in his luggage.

In December 2008, investigators learned that the Caledonian had twice tried to reach Australia with passports that did not belong to him. Interpol, the international criminal police organization, had then warned the French authorities that luggage, registered under a false name, had been blocked in Australia at the time of his trip and had just been redirected to Roissy.

Without waiting, the investigators went to a warehouse at the airport, searched the luggage and discovered 686 grams of cocaine hidden in a battery. “Analysis of the products seized revealed the presence of cocaine hydrochloride at 83%, i.e. cocaine of high purity, rare on the markets and of high market value.. Once the drug is cut, its price per gram breaks records in Australia.

He lived in hiding in the Philippines

A traveler with multiple identities. Phone lines that change regularly and are never in his name – “method very frequently used by traffickers to secure their communications as much as possible”, says the judgment. And one “distribution network”, to dispose of goods imported from Brazil “in significant quantities”, who leanedon intermediaries” of which he “did not hesitate to take advantage of the financial difficulties, retaining for its part the significant profits from these sales, part of the product intended to be exported to Australia”.

Tired of lying about his past, of no longer seeing his relatives in Metropolitan France and on the Caillou, the forties, who recently lived in the Philippines where he started a family, wanted to settle his accounts with French justice by going to the police. at the borders under his true identity. “I was tired of living like this. I don’t want to anymore. It’s worse than detention, it’s open-air prison. And I understood that it was never going to stop”he defends himself.

“I have to face my old stories”

We met him, and convinced him to tell his story. The former trafficker opposed the judgment of Marseille. It will therefore be retried. His trial is scheduled in a month. To this day, he still benefits from the presumption of innocence. “Now I have to face my old stories. I will admit what I did but you have to be fair. I am not part of any criminal organization.”

He assumes a trip from Brazil to Marseille – “only one”, he repeats – with more than 600 grams of cocaine hidden “in a battery of a solar panel. At that time, I was addicted. A real addiction. I lived in Brazil and it was easy to get some“The forty-year-old assures”that many French people have done like me. They pretended to be tourists or old hippies to bring drugs.”

If he fled France in 2008, it was because, he swears, “dangerous people from Marseilles wanted to get their hands on me to work for them. I got scared and I fled.” Did he know he was wanted by the courts? “Yes”, he admits. His last destination: Danao City, one hour by plane from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. He says he is now weaned from cocaine. “I will never touch this business again.”

The Caledonian”does not have the profile of a tough guy who was logically leaving France in the hold for years on the run. He simply left a system and threats hanging over him.”describes his lawyer Me Pierre Ortet. On arrival in Tontouta, it was necessary to disentangle “a procedural misunderstanding. My client was first placed in pre-trial detention by a judge in Noumea, before being released by another judge in Marseille, by videoconference, a few days later. The question of jurisdiction between Nouméa and Marseille was raised. It was decided by the Nouméa Court of Appeal, which confirmed the release.”

Meth in the United States

It’s always hard to let go of your past. The Caledonian rarely talks about it, but in 2005 he was expelled from the United States. He had just served a three-year sentence in a California prison after being arrested in a stolen car with ephedrine pills, a necessary component in the manufacture of methamphetamine. He has since been prohibited from setting foot on American territory.

Four years later, a new conviction is added to his record. This time, it was the Nouméa court that sentenced him to one year in prison and a customs fine of one million francs. He had been spotted, in 2006, with ecstasys when he arrived on the Caillou from Australia.

The fugitive now says he is out of the drug business. “If I had been a big gangster, I would be in my beautiful villa somewhere in the world. I just want to pay my debt and live here, in New Caledonia.”

His trial will begin on June 23, in Marseille. He can decide to go there, or to be represented by a lawyer.