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Organized crime in Marseille

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  1. Introduction
  2. The neo-institutionalist approach
  3. The origins of the Marseilles 'milieu'
  4. The Marseilles criminal groups: Operating in an attractive region
  5. Support for the 'milieu' within legitimate sectors of the society
  6. Organised crime's relationship with politics
  7. The neo-institutionalist theory
    1. Remarks on the Marseilles groups' power struggles
    2. Tracing back the origins to the beginning of the last century
  8. Conclusion: The lack of a clear definition for organized crime according to French Law
  9. Bibliography

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[28]. 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. [...]


[...] It appears that the Marseilles is indeed in a period of transition, but that there still exists a particular underworld, and that the city and the region still keep their capacity to attract rapacious organised crime interests or other organised crime groups. The essay will first look at the origins of the Marseilles before turning to analyse its activities. Attention will also be paid to links with other criminal groups, relationships with civil society and politics, as well as to the challenge to democracy that the Marseilles criminal world raises. [...]

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