January 17, 2008 / 8:52 PM / 11 years ago

Former French Connection "chemist" jailed again

Former French Connection's chemist Andre Bousquet (L) arrives at Marseille's court for the start of his trial for drug trafficking January 8, 2008. Bousquet, once jailed for involvement in a drug ring that inspired the 1971 police film "The French Connection", was sent back to prison on Thursday for helping a bid to ship cocaine in a cargo of mangoes. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - A man once jailed for involvement in a drug ring that inspired the 1971 police film “The French Connection” was sent back to prison on Thursday for helping a bid to ship cocaine in a cargo of mangoes.

A court in the southern French city of Marseille sentenced Andre Bousquet, 61, to five years in prison for sharing his contacts with dealers the court said were linked to the Italian mob and South American drug networks.

His lawyers say they plan to appeal.

“All my life I’ve been around gangsters, but I had nothing to do with this drug trafficking,” Bousquet said earlier this month after his conviction, which preceded his sentencing.

A former doctor known in France as “the chemist”, Bousquet worked in the archives of a hospital following his conditional release from prison in 2001, and says the mango deal involved only emeralds and caviar.

Bousquet has already spent more than two decades in prison for refining heroin and smuggling drugs. He was convicted of involvement in refining opiates used in the so-called French Connection, a drug network that shipped waves of heroin to New York via France in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Prosecutor Nicolas Bessone said Bousquet “has an address book that looks like the Who’s Who of organised crime”.

In July last year, 33 people were convicted for their involvement in the scheme in which police say hundreds of pounds of cocaine were due to be shipped in a mango container.

Police phone taps uncovered Bousquet’s role in the bid.

Reporting by Jean-Francois Rosnoblet; Writing by Brian Rohan; Editing by Sami Aboudi

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