Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: Antoine Boureau / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP 4:35 p.m., February 25, 2024

A Frenchman suspected of being "the main member of a Marseille clan" engaged in drug trafficking was arrested on Sunday in Spain near Tarragona.

The man, targeted by a European arrest warrant, is identified as Jean-Anthony Blas, born in 1990, with an extensive criminal record.

A Frenchman, suspected of being "the main member of a clan" from Marseille engaged in drug trafficking, was arrested on Sunday in the north-east of Spain, Spanish police announced, presenting him as "the one of the most wanted fugitives in France.

The man, the subject of a European arrest warrant, was arrested in a bar in Salou, near Tarragona, a seaside resort located about an hour and a half drive south of Barcelona, ​​and identified as Jean-Anthony Blas , born in 1990, the Spanish police told AFP.

He escaped a police operation in March 2023 in France, managing to use four different identities during his flight.


Drug trafficking: in Obernai, in Alsace, the gendarmes' “square net” operation

After this vast operation, carried out in the Campagne-Levêque city in Marseille but also in Port-de-Bouc and Châteauneuf-les-Martigues, two small towns located west of Marseille in Bouches-du-Rhône, 14 people had been indicted (charged).

Assault rifles, cannabis, luxury cars and more than 300,000 euros were also seized.

On Jean-Anthony Blas's record appears "a sentence of ten years in prison in his country for offenses of drug trafficking, illegal possession of weapons, offenses against public order and security and membership to an organized criminal gang,” the Spanish police said in their press release.

This network “regularly exported cannabis to Spain and had a large arsenal of weapons of war,” she added.

19 arrests of Marseille drug bandits since 2021

Jean-Anthony Blas is "at the highest level in the management of the Campagne-Levêque network", located in the north of France's second city, one of "the biggest cities in Marseille, where drug trafficking is the most profitable" , a source close to the investigation explained to AFP.

This new arrest brings to 19 the number of important members of Marseille drug banditry arrested since February 2021 in France or abroad, said the same source.

Jean-Anthony Blas must be handed over to French justice within 40 days.

Major drug trafficking networks are based in Marseille, a port city of 870,000 inhabitants, also among the poorest in France.

The war for control of drug sales outlets caused the deaths of 49 people in Marseille and Bouches-du-Rhône in 2023, a historically high level.

Among those killed were collateral victims, including a law student, Socayna, completely unrelated to drug trafficking, struck down in her home by a stray bullet.