The drug war in Marseille has already claimed more than 40 lives this year – most recently an uninvolved person. Interior Minister Darmanin has declared war on the drug mafia. But his strategy also attracts criticism.
At the beginning of the week, news channels reported the death of a 24-year-old in Marseille – accidentally hit by a bullet from a Kalashnikov. The drug dealers had been shooting around aimlessly in order to claim the actually quiet residential area for themselves.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin explained shortly after a special police unit’s visit to Marseille that the shooting was a result of the excellent police work: “The attack on this neighborhood is without a doubt also the result of what our police officers do. There are so many of them “Drug outlets have been discovered in other corners of the city, suggesting that the dealers may be looking for new territory.”
Already 40 dead
It’s a vicious circle: The Interior Ministry is strengthening the units and will soon even deploy the heavily armed CRS-8 in the drug districts. But the more successfully the police officers dig up the hotspots, the more relentless the fight for them becomes. The drug war in Marseille has claimed over 40 lives since January alone; last year there were a total of 31.
The victims are getting younger and younger, explains the journalist and expert on gang crime, Jerome Pierrat, in an interview with the television station RMC: In the past, it was about eliminating the rival gang bosses, i.e. men between 30 and 40. “But they are now controlling the business abroad, so to speak, work from home. Today only the small henchmen, the day laborers of the drug trade, are on site. And they are often only 15, 16 or 17 years old. When there is a fight between the rival gangs, the dead are also dead 15, 16 or 17 year olds.”
Marseille is experiencing a banalization of violence. Weapons of war are now standard, young drug workers are becoming more and more comfortable with their weapons, killing rivals more and more often and bystanders more and more often. Jerome Pierrat believes Darmanin’s strategy of repression is misguided: “That doesn’t help. You use the CRS-8, then the hotspot moves a few meters further, or they deliver the stuff to customers’ homes.”
If you really want to get to the root of the problem, you need to employ more detectives to pursue those behind the drug mafia and its global money flows. But this takes time and is not so visible. “But the minister wants visible results quickly.”
The Marseille justice system is completely overloaded and can no longer keep up with the investigation of the murders and attempted murders. The minister is trying to appeal to the population, because France is the European leader in cannabis consumption. “All those who use drugs are jointly responsible for the deadly reckonings, for the exploitation of minors, for the murders.”
Darmanin’s actions are criticized not only by the left-wing opposition, but also within the government majority. Instead of relying on repression, France must finally legalize cannabis. This is the only way to stop the drug gangs.