Three killed in night of Marseille drug gang violence

AFP - [email protected]
Three killed in night of Marseille drug gang violence

At least three people were shot dead and another eight were wounded during an overnight flare up in drug gang violence in the crime-plagued French port of Marseille, police said on Monday.


Three separate shooting incidents have increased fears that tit-for-tat violence between rival gangs is spiralling after a series of fatal shootings over the last month.

Regional police chief Frederique Camilleri told AFP on Monday that a turf war was underway rooted in the notorious Paternelle housing estate in northern Marseille.

"This estate is linked to almost all the killings in Marseille over the last months, with two sides that are fighting over the dealing spots and which have probably entered into a cycle of vendettas," she said.


Most of the victims were "extremely low" in the networks which control the narcotics trade, she said, with the city serving as an important gateway for drugs such as cocaine and marijuana into Europe.

Two young men in their early 20s suffered fatal gunshot wounds overnight, two of them in the Castellas neighbourhood in northern Marseille where around 50 bullet casings were found by police, the local prosecutor's office said.

A 16-year-old boy died just north of the historic centre of the city in the gritty La Joliette district, while another with him is fighting for his life in intensive care, local police said. A 14-year-old was also wounded at the scene.

'Easy money'

Last year, 32 people were shot dead in gang violence in Marseille, the highest level since 2016, according to the local prosecutor's office.

In just three months, 13 have died so far this year, including the latest victims, according to a toll from AFP.

While the southern port city is renowned for its spectacular Mediterranean setting, its northern districts are some of the most deprived urban areas in France.

The Paternelle housing estate is composed of a series run-down low-rise buildings where drugs are openly sold and the police are unwelcome.

"The conflict began last summer and accelerated at the end of 2022 for unknown reasons," Camilleri added. "Each gang has interests in other estates -- Micocouliers, Font Vert, Kalliste -- where there have been other shootings these last few months."

French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a €1.5-billion plan to help Marseille tackle crime and deprivation in September 2021, calling such efforts a "duty of the nation".


During a three-day visit to the city, Macron called drug networks "parasites" and said traffickers would now be "harassed" by the authorities.

Rudy Manna, a spokesman for the Alliance police union, said extra officers had been put on the ground in Marseille but local associations and the justice system were needed to solve the underlying problems.

"If you put 10,000 police officers, you'll still have drug-dealing," he told the BFM channel on Monday. "Unfortunately there's easy money raining down on Marseille estates and it's attracting far too many young people."


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