Spain Accidentally Releases Karim Bouyakhrichan: REPORT

(ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Fiona McLoughlin Contributor
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One of Europe’s most-wanted criminals and alleged cartel boss, Karim Bouyakhrichan, was released from prison accidentally due to a judicial mix-up in Spain, according to multiple reports.

Police arrested Bouyakhrichan, the alleged “Mocro Maffia” leader, in January after a five-year-long money laundering investigation, according to Politico. The 46-year-old, known as “Taxi,” was released due to confusion over an extradition request by the Dutch government. He has since vanished, the BBC reported.

The Mocro Maffia are several of Europe’s largest cocaine trafficking cartels, according to the BBC. The cartels are believed to have smuggled billions of euros worth of cocaine from South America during the last 15 years. They reportedly direct money-laundering operations across not only Europe, but the Middle East and Morrocco, BBC reported.

Authorities arrested Bouyakhrichan along with five other men and accused him of laundering money through the purchasing of properties in Spain, totaling 172 properties worth over €50m (roughly $53.4 million), the outlet reported. (RELATED: FBI Nabs Alleged MS-13 Senior Leader On Most Wanted List In Border City).

Dutch authorities requested the alleged gang leader be sent back to the Netherlands to face charges related to the drug trafficking empire, Politico reported. The request was approved by The National Court in Madrid, but the Provincial Court in Málaga denied the extradition as they have jurisdiction over the area where Bouyakhrichan was arrested. The Málaga court argued he had to face the charges of money laundering in Spain before he could be sent elsewhere.

Dutch authorities then filed a new request, stressing that Bouyakhrichan was one of Interpol’s most wanted criminals and was being sought after for his role in a drug war that reportedly killed dozens of people in the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Morocco, Politico reported.

The National Court accepted the appeal but failed to issue a detention order that would ensure the alleged cartel boss would remain imprisoned until the extradition order was carried out, according to Spanish radio network, Cadena SER.

Spain’s Justice Minister Félix Bolaños told reporters that Bouyakhrichan’s escape was “worrying news.” Bolaños insisted that the security forces “will hand this person over to justice as soon as possible.”

During the initial hearing in Málaga in March, the judge agreed to release Bouyakhrichan on bail of €50,000 (roughly $53,400), which he reportedly paid and then skipped town, Politico reported. Bouyakhrichan has not been seen since then.

The Mocro Maffia has also reportedly been linked to threats made against Princess Amalia, the heir to the Dutch throne, the BBC reported.