Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 10:08 UK

Spain holds Moroccan drugs baron

By James Copnall
BBC News, Rabat

Moroccan drugs baron El Nene
El Nene was on the run from Kenitra high-security prison

A notorious drugs baron, who escaped from a Moroccan jail last December, has been recaptured, the Spanish authorities say.

Mohamed Ouazzani, a Moroccan citizen, was caught in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, which is surrounded by Morocco.

Ouazzani, alias El Nene ("The Baby"), built up a huge fortune, having started dealing drugs at a very young age.

He was jailed for eight years in 2004 for drug trafficking. Reports say he had a comfortable lifestyle in jail.

El Nene, 32, liked to boast he had more millions in the bank than years alive.

He captured the Moroccan imagination in much the same way he conquered a large share of the drugs market - with large amounts of daring and even more cash.

According to some reports, he had a relaxing time in jail: three rooms with a plasma television, internet access and air-conditioning, occasionally leaving jail to visit local restaurants and bars.

Last December he escaped entirely. This month the same prison, Kenitra, was back in the headlines after nine Islamist prisoners dug a tunnel and also got away.

The Spanish authorities had previously failed in several attempts to seize him, despite using helicopters and high-speed boats.

In the north of Morocco, where El Nene was based, drugs provide a quick way out of poverty. By some estimates Morocco is the biggest hashish producer in the world.

Regions and territories: Ceuta, Melilla
18 Dec 07 |  Country profiles
Morocco's war on cannabis
09 Mar 07 |  Africa

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific