At the foot of a tower, under a porch or in a stairwell, young men hold the walls. Continually, customers parade and leave with a few bars of cannabis or grams of cocaine… This scene is played out every day, almost everywhere in France and in proportions hitherto difficult to measure.
But to fight an enemy, it is better to know his forces and know how to locate them. In the summer, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, therefore asked his services to identify all the places of trafficking present in the territory. “We consider that it is a point of deal when a place of sale of narcotic products is installed on the public highway and that the presence of dealers is daily”, specifies a source familiar with the matter. Police officers and gendarmes thus transmitted to the 103 operational narcotics intelligence units (Cross) information on the drug supermarkets and convenience stores located in their department.
The spectacular and disturbing result confirms the scale of the task in the battle against narcotics, which the police intend to lead, from international to building lobbies. According to the figures that we reveal exclusively, France now has 3,952 deal points. This unprecedented compilation reveals the extent of the phenomenon. In metropolitan France, only Lozère and Hautes-Alpes do not have, according to the Ministry of the Interior, any identified point. That’s not why you can’t find cannabis there, but in these departments, sales are done more by word of mouth or on the fly than in a real fixed point of sale.
Seine-Saint-Denis, the Rhône and the North in the lead
Conversely, unsurprisingly here again, large urban centers are much more affected by the presence of these hash and coke tobacconists. At the top, this dark track record sits Seine-Saint-Denis, which has 276 deal points. “It is the number one scourge of the department, blows a magistrate stationed in the 93. It destroys a part of the youth attracted by easy money. Some young people do not even imagine doing anything other than drug dealing when this can only lead them to death or to prison. “In certain districts of the department, as soon as there is a stairwell, there is a place of sale”, also blows a senior official for whom the figure of 276 is rather an optimistic vision.
The Rhône and the North complete the podium with, too, more than 250 places to get supplies of narcotic products. The other Ile-de-France departments are also high in the ranking and have between 66 stups in Paris and 128 in Val-d’Oise. “In large cities, the clientele is large and drugs are the most profitable criminal activity,” said a specialized police officer. Many people live through traffic and a point of deal can generate up to 50,000 euros per day. “
More surprisingly, far from the big metropolises, some departments present a significant concentration. This is particularly the case in Vaucluse and Loiret, receptacles for Parisian and Marseille plaques, where there are respectively 15 and 10 deal points per 100,000 inhabitants. Overseas, Guadeloupe and Martinique are also gangrenous, with respectively 129 and 50 deal points for barely more than 350,000 inhabitants.
“The more traffic is present, the more crime is present”
Once the adversary has been identified and quantified, the authorities hope to be able to measure more precisely the effectiveness of their fight against drug trafficking. The quantity of places listed in certain departments such as Seine-Saint-Denis indeed illustrates the futility of a number of “anti-drug plans” initiated by successive governments with millions of dollars. These figures also confirm that the endless police raids have visibly failed to hamper the traffic and the nuisances that go with it over time.
“The points of deal constitute an unbearable appropriation of public space, asserts the Ministry of the Interior. Punch operations are useful and confuse the traffickers, but if it is for a point of deal to relocate in the same place three days later, it is of no use. The fight against drugs must restore serenity to many inhabitants, who suffer from these dealers, and reduce crime in general. “
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The specialized police officers thus agree to say that the drug traffic feeds that of the weapons, the settling of accounts, but also the burglaries or the robberies when a dealer or a consumer has to repay his debts. “The more traffic is present, the more delinquency is present,” sums up a specialist. We obviously have to fight the big networks that feed the deal points, but seizures and arrests are useless if we are not able to ensure the peace of the inhabitants of certain neighborhoods. “
The number race
In the coming weeks, certain places deemed to be “priority” will therefore be targeted by the authorities with the ambition to act in the long term and to really eliminate traffic places. “It will give motivation to the police, thinks a senior official of Seine-Saint-Denis, who however fears a stigmatization of the department. They will see the concrete results of their work. Every month, the police will therefore update these statistics of the deal plans in order to analyze the consequences on the ground of a large-scale seizure or a wave of arrests. “The idea is good, estimates the prefect of a department, where are located more than twenty points of sale. It remains to put the means … “
More skeptical, some high-level police officers see this new statistical instrument as a “technocratic tool”. To the point, for some of them, of doubting the methodology and the figures. This is particularly the case in the Bouches-du-Rhône, where the local authorities have identified 140 points, “while there are double of them in Marseille alone”, according to a top cop. Above all, these seasoned police officers fear that the light thrown on the points of sale will sign the return of the policy of the number.
To the point of pushing police officers to focus only on easy to dismantle deal points in order to embellish their statistics? “To fight against narcotics, we should not have a quantitative approach, but a qualitative approach,” said the boss of an investigation service. If we have fun bringing down small networks to generate numbers, it will strengthen the larger ones. Between a small point of deal that brings in 5,000 or 10,000 euros per week and heavyweights who amass 50,000 euros per day, have weapons and do not hesitate to use them, the stakes are not the same. In the fight against drugs, numbers cannot tell everything. “