Macron vows ‘unprecedented operation’ against drugs in Marseille

Macron vows ‘unprecedented operation’ against drugs in Marseille
Macron vows ‘unprecedented operation’ against drugs in Marseille

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - French President Emmanuel Macron (centre) meets with residents during a visit focusing on security and the fight against drug trafficking, in La Castellane district of Marseille, southeastern France, on March 19, 2024. — AFP pool pic

MARSEILLE, March 19 — French President Emmanuel Macron today pledged an “unprecedented operation” against drug trafficking in Marseille during a surprise visit to the southern port city beset by gangland killings.

“In Marseille and other cities in France, we have launched an unprecedented operation to put a stop to drug trafficking and ensure republican order,” Macron wrote on X, formerly Twitter, after arriving in the city.

The operation, according to press reports, will require the mobilisation of thousands of police deployed weekly to end a crisis that has eroded security in Marseille and damaged its reputation.

Macron began his visit with a walkabout in the northern district of La Castellane, telling residents in what has been one of the worst hit areas that the operation will “last several weeks”.

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“The goal is to try to destroy the networks and the traffickers and to make those people who make your life impossible go away,” he said.

According to the Le Figaro daily, 4,000 police officers will be mobilised every week in Marseille and the surrounding areas. Some 170 “targets” have been identified.

The turf war for control of lucrative deal-making points in Marseille hit new highs in 2023, with 49 people killed—mostly in drug-related murders—and 123 people injured.

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Four of those killed had no link to drug wars and were caught by accident in crossfire.

The campaign by the French authorities comes after the alleged leader of a major drug gang from Marseille was arrested in Morocco last week.

Felix Bingui, 33, was detained in the port city of Casablanca.

Bingui is believed to be the leader of Yoda, one of Marseille’s main drug gangs, that has been engaged in a turf war with another major clan known as DZ Mafia.

Tackling the issue is all the more important for the French authorities as Marseille has a role to play in this summer’s Olympics in the capital Paris.

Marseille is due to provide a spectacular backdrop as it hosts the Olympic sailing events and its legendary Velodrome stadium will also host some matches in the Olympic football tournament. — AFP

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