Gang-torn France turning into Europe’s Mexico with bloody ‘cartel-style’ tactics & coke hauls stolen by ‘narco tourists’

<div>Gang-torn France turning into Europe’s Mexico with bloody ‘cartel-style’ tactics & coke hauls stolen by ‘narco tourists’</div>
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BEACHES combed for cocaine, 450 drug war deaths in a year and now security guards gunned down in broad daylight – France’s bloody narco underworld is increasingly spilling on to the streets.

On Tuesday, French politicians issued a report warning that their country was being Mexicanised with ruthless cartels stopping at nothing to keep their billion-pound operations going.

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Hooded gunmen ambushed a prison convoy near Rouen this week[/caption]

Reuters

The prison van was attacked in an armed ambush[/caption]

AFP

Cops search for drugs washed up on Normandy’s shores, which are often pounced upon by ‘narco tourists’[/caption]

That was starkly illustrated on the same day by AK47-wielding killers shooting dead two prison officers in an ambush to free drugs kingpin Mohamed Amra – dubbed ‘The Fly’ – near Rouen.

There is now a nationwide manhunt for the murderous gang and Amra, 30, who is accused of ordering the execution of a rival in Marseilles in 2022.

Marseilles, France’s second city and a major route for smugglers, witnessed 250 drug gang-related deaths last year and last month one school installed bullet-proof windows to cope with the stray bullets from open warfare.

But according to the report: “Drug trafficking is infiltrating everywhere, with the corollary of exacerbated violence, like an inexorably rising tide, drug trafficking always seems to find a way to infiltrate.”

It added that “processes used by South American and Mexican cartels were until now unknown in Europe”, but now “criminal organisations, even in Europe, no longer hesitate to challenge the State”.

The mafia-like gangs are in the countryside, the capital Paris, the island of Corsica and have a deadly foothold in the northern port of Le Havre.

Cocaine seizures have risen five-fold in just ten years and that there are 3,000 dealer points where drugs can be bought at anytime of the day.

Across the country, the social exclusion of immigrants struggling to integrate and issues around poverty in the most run-down neighbourhoods have driven more towards a life of crime, the New York Times reports.

President Emmanuel Macron has announced a crack down. But operations – such as XXL Clear-Up in March, which saw 850 people arrested for drug related offences – are unlikely to stem the tide.

There are 600,000 cocaine users in France and it is route into other European countries with similar problems.


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Smugglers send the packages, hidden in other consignments, from South America via French-speaking Caribbean islands, such as Martinique, to French ports.

The consequences have been most obviously felt in Marseilles, on the Mediterranean, and Le Havre on the English Channel.

A couple of years ago in Le Havre police shot at men unloading cocaine from a container at the port.

AFP

Police examine the scene where two men were shot dead, in Sevran, northern Paris, last week[/caption]

AFP

Three men were shot dead in northern Paris early in May[/caption]

AFP

A bag of drugs found in a northern district of Marseille[/caption]

The gang managed to escape in a van, but left behind 280kgs of the illegal substance.

Over 30 dock workers have reportedly been taken hostage by traffickers over the past six years, with the criminals trying to force them to aid their operations in some manner.

In February 2023 six men were jailed for a combined 100 years for helping to get 1.3 tonnes of cocaine out of the port.

Three years earlier docker Allan Affagard, a father-of-four, was found beaten to death following accusations that he’d been involved in aiding smugglers, something he denied.

Criminal organisations, even in Europe, no longer hesitate to challenge the State


Senate report

The gangs are so brazen that armed dealers broke into a high security warehouse to get back the packs of cocaine that had been confiscated in the port.

Shockingly, when drugs worth an estimated £133million washed up onto the shores of Normandy last year, opportunistic gangs on quad bikes descended looking to snatch packages containing the illicit white powder.

Police – who later recovered some of the packages from towns including Néville-sur-mer, Omonville-la-Rogue and Réville – dubbed the beach raiders ‘narco tourists’.

No-holds barred

AFP

Drug boss Mohamed Amra escaped from a prison van[/caption]

Supplied

Footage of a shootout at Le Havre port[/caption]

A report by the Senate – the upper house of the Paris parliament – suggested that the country was being overrun by heavily-armed dealers.

Their constant murderous turf wars mean France is facing a “tipping point”, the report reads. 

With the country’s drug gangs turning over more than £3billion a year there is a lot to fight over.

The report says France is being “submerged by drug-related crime” and that “the intensification of drug trafficking” across the nation “can expose citizens to veritable scenes of war”.

“There are home delivery services in Marseille for cannabis or cocaine that publicize themselves on social media, and even get sold like a regular business,” Senator Durain, one of the authors of the report, said.

“People in private WhatsApp groups call them ‘Uber-hash’ or ‘Uber-coke,’ it’s that commonplace.”

The French Connection

Drugs have been synonymous with France since the early 20th century and the emergence of the ‘French Connection.

This was a scheme that saw heroin smuggled from Southeast Asia through Turkey to France – and then to the United States and Canada.

Beginning in the 1930s, the operation was responsible for supplying most of the heroin in the US. It reached its peak in the 1960s, and was dismantled in the 1970s.

Gangs from the Corsican underworld oversaw the scheme, with bosses including Paul Carbone and Antoine Guérini.

The police fightback against the French Connection was famously depicted in the classic Oscar-winning 1971 film of the same name.

That is the case in Marseilles where Amra is suspected to be the boss of the Black Clan, which operates on a council estate.

A judicial source said: “He is suspected of having ordered an assassination in Marseille on June 17, 2022. 

“The charred corpse of a man was found in a burned vehicle, in the town of Le Rove, bordering Marseille. The victim had obviously been executed beforehand with a bullet to the head.”

The source told The Sun that the mafia-type shooting was “typical of the way drug gang members kill each other”.

Clashes between Marseille gangs such as the Black Clan, Yoda and DZ Mafia are tearing the city apart.

Legend has it that last year chiefs from DZ Mafia and Yoda met in Thailand to strike up an agreement, but an ice cube was thrown at one of them and now they are at full scale war.

In September the Calanques de Sormiou primary school in Marseilles installed bullet proof glazing after finding spent cartridges in the playground.

Kid killers

The toll on the city’s youth is unbearable.

Last month a 16-year-old was shot dead and a 14-year-old injured by rifle fire.

Statistics from the city’s judiciary reveal that 62 per cent of the killers are 21 or younger. Some of the executions are live-streamed on messaging apps such as Snapchat. 

“It’s a bloodbath,’ said Marseille state prosecutor Dominique Laurens. “There has been a surge in murders.”

Kalashnikov assault rifles from Eastern Europe have always been easily available, but more sophisticated weapons are now emerging, said Ms Laurens.

Almost 1,000 weapons were seized in Marseille alone last year, including around 100 assault rifles. 

Police also arrested around 1,250 suspected drug dealers in the city, and seized £13million in criminal assets linked to drugs. 

It’s an expanding market, and it shows no sign of slowing


Laurent Laniel

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has regularly dispatched the elite CRS (Republican Security Companies) on to drug estates in armoured cars. 

“Containment of the drug trade requires specialist units and – yes – a lot of fire power,” said an Interior Ministry source.

However, there are fears that organised crime networks might have infiltrated the national anti-drugs agency (Ofast) in Marseilles. 

In April police raided the local branch in part of an investigation into corruption. 

Fight for control

The effect is spreading.

In nearby Nimes last summer a ten-year-old boy was caught in the crossfire between warring factions as his uncle drove him home. He died from the bullet wounds.

The gangs are vying for control of the drugs market – not just in France’s second biggest city, but across the nation, and particularly in cities such as Paris and Lyon.

In the poverty-striken suburb of Sevran in Paris, three people were shot dead in drug-related slayings in one weekend this month.

The problem is even worse on the French island of Corsica, which had the highest murder rate in Europe in 2018.

Its impoverished population has to cope with violent mafia organisations trying to control much of the economy.

Valerie Clemens, a member of the ‘Mafia No Life Yes Collective’, told The Sun: “The murder rate is strongly linked to organised crime – the gangs that are involved in drugs, public works and waste disposal.”

Drug enforcement agencies are doing a good job in seizing consignments – with hauls of contraband up last year.

But Laurent Laniel, of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, concluded: “What we’re actually seeing is a concerted, ongoing attempt to flood Europe with cocaine. It’s an expanding market, and it shows no sign of slowing.”

AFP

A police operation at an estate in the northern area of Marseille, southern France[/caption]

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