Academic literature on French organised crime is scarce. Very few if not any criminology departments exist within French universities and higher education institutions. Moreover, public debate is centred on the issues of petty crime and unruly youths, as it was the case during the 2002 presidential election campaign. Organised crime is also presented as a foreign-originated problem , be it from Russian, Chinese, Italian or Columbian origin. However, there exists some evidence to maintain that native organised groups are present in France, especially in its South-Eastern part. For instance, the Mediterranean city of Marseilles has a tradition of organised groups that can be traced back to the 19th century. Since the end of the Second World War, these groups have fought a bloody war for the control of the Marseilles underworld.
[...] 177-187 Stéphane Quéré, Règlements de comptes dans le grand sud (Menaces criminelles contemporaines, 2001) for these two examples, available at www.drmcc.org Xavier Raufer, Stéphane Quéré, Machines à sous, une guerre bien réelle, (Menaces criminelles contemporaines, 2001), available at www.drmcc.org Xavier Raufer, Stéphane Quéré, Le crime organisé (Presses Universitaires de France, 2003) Michel Samson, “Trois policiers du SRPJ de Marseille ont été incarcérés”, Le Monde, July 26th 1998 Michel Samson, décadence des parrains”, Le Monde, December 12th 2004 “Tapie, un culot qui frise l'inconscience”, Le Monde, April 21st 2002 Nacer Lalam, organised is organised crime in France?”, in Cyrille Fijnaut, Letizia Paoli (eds.), Organised crime in Europe, concepts, patterns, and control policies in the European Union and beyond (Springer, 2004), p Colin Hay, Political analysis, a critical introduction (Palgrave, 2002), pp. [...]
[...] Proponents of the latter thesis contend that Marseilles bosses have gone more discrete and that organised crime becomes more difficult to track down, as money-laundering techniques become more and more sophisticated. Among law enforcement officers, the general understanding tends to dismiss the organised crime networking as ephemeral associations that are easily challenged by arguments over profits. However, some officers at the SRPJ Marseilles and at the Office Central de Répression du Banditisme (OCRB) advocate the thesis of organised groups, with criminal entrepreneurs who head up international business based on the capitalist model, which are involved in many different illegal as well as legal activities. [...]
[...] However, a grim light was cast on the relationship between organised crime and politics in the department of Var, during the trial of the killers of Yann Piat, an MP who had launched an attack against what she saw as a too close relationship between politicians and gangsters. Maurice Arreckx, once a Senator and president of the local assembly, appeared before court as a witness (although he was then detained on charges of bribes). As for Marseilles, a journalist, Christophe Bouchet, reported in one of his books that actor-showman-businessman turned politician Bernard Tapie, once tried to intercede with the interior minister to ask for an early release for the Marseilles godfather, Francis Vanverberghe. [...]
[...] Nonetheless, throughout the eighties, Marseilles kept its significance as a thoroughfare for international drug trafficking, and affairs like the 1981 murder of Judge Michel, who was working in connection with his Italian counterparts to dismantle the drug cartels operating in the Mediterranean area demonstrated that organised crime had not deserted the Mediterranean city. However, some authors contend that the Marseilles underworld has become quite similar to those of other Southern French cities and has concentrated on the area's minor underworld sector, as the serious business has been taken over by criminal organizations based in Paris or Southern Italy which use the South coast's bars, clubs and casinos as money- laundering facilities. [...]
[...] What do these persistent rivalries tell us about organised crime in Marseilles? They seem to validate the neo-institutionalist claim that, within institutions, intense change alternates with stability. As for the Marseilles underworld, it appears that periods of intense change coincides with absence of a clear leadership, the sort of which Zampa, Vanverberghe or Imbert used to provide. From 1993 to 2002, these gang wars have claimed 281 lives in the South-Eastern quarter of France, as the is searching for a clear leadership. [...]
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