French police and security forces are organizing a national dragnet in an attempt to arrest individuals suspected of participating in the three weeks of rioting in French banlieues that began on Oct. 27 and lasted almost three weeks, as well as to break up some elements of the underground economy that flourishes there, Le Figaro reported Wednesday.  --  On this subject, compare what Pierre Tévanien had to say in a Nov. 7 piece entitled "Analyse du discours dominant sur la violence et l’insécurité en 'banlieue'" ('Analysis of the dominant discourse on banlieue violence and insecurity') about drug arrests in the banlieues:  "One other thing that studying the figures relating to delinquency reveals is that the persons charged for possession of small quantities of soft drugs are almost exclusively young lower-class males.  Thus instead of letting figures 'speak for themselves,' or rather, instead of making them say what they do not say ('young people have become savages'), we can derive from them some precious lessons; but this requires us to take into account prejudices and that we correlate police and justice figures with other data.  What we discover about 'drug addiction' then is that the practice of consuming and reselling soft drugs, which is equally common in all social milieus, leads to prosecution only for one small portion of those involved:  the 'youth of the banlieue.'  What one discovers, in other words, is that in this matter we indeed have to do with a class-based justice." ...

[Translated from Le Figaro (Paris)]



By Christophe Cornevin

** Nearly 80 arrests were made yesterday in several sensitive districts of the Hexagon **

Le Figaro (Paris)
November 23, 2005

Ten days after the end of the urban violence that set the banlieues aflame, security forces are not dropping their guard. According to our sources, nearly 80 persons were arrested yesterday in coordinated operations conducted inside eight sensitive housing projects throughout the country: all were prey to an underground economy sustained for the most part through trafficking in various narcotics and money-laundering. Rifles, pistols, and revolvers and several dozen kilos of marijuana resin, heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy were seized in the course of searches.

Backed by Sécurité publique [NOTE: The national police force is administered by the Direction Centrale de la Sécurité Publique, which includes both urban police and the CRS (riot police). --Trans.], Groupes d'intervention régionaux (GIR) [NOTE: 'Regional intervention groups' allowing police and gendarmes to work together in special units were created in France by a 2002 law. --Trans.] and the Direction centrale de la police judiciaire (DCPJ) [NOTE: The "PJ" is a national police force created under the Third Republic involved in combating organized crime, cyber crime, etc. --Trans.] had targeted their objectives.  Some of the housing projects have been in their sights for months: thus more than 200 men swept into the Mongaillard and de l'Heure districts of Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), where 34 suspected drug traffickers were taken into custody. At the same time, a network of marijuana resin involving about thirty persons was taken down in the Montluçon banlieue (Allier), while 120 police and gendarmes moved into sensitive housing projects in Grenoble and Echirolles (Isère), where twenty-two semi-wholesalers and dealers were apprehended. In Strasbourg, ten street sellers were arrested in the Hautepierre district. In Reims (Marne), local PJ forces dismantled a gang in Châlons-sur-Marne suspected of thefts and acts of violence, accompanied by kidnappings and false imprisonment related to drug transactions. In Evreux and Louviers, "raids" were conducted in response to a series of "carjackings."

The criminal activities brought to light yesterday demonstrate that banlieue leaders have continued to prosper despite the riots that shook the country for three weeks. "In some housing projects, the criminals at first asked youths to throw stones outside their territory so that they could continue their businesses," comments a Paris commissaire. "Then the riots spread everywhere: by encircling the sensitive housing projects without every really getting inside them, security forces were paradoxically protecting zones of trafficking . . ."


More than ever, the crack-down on the underground economy remains one of the priorities of the Place Beauvau [NOTE: The Ministère de l'Intérieur is located on the Place Beauvau, just across the street from the Élysée Palace, where the president of the French Republic resides. --Trans.] : since their creation in 2002, the GIRs have participated in more than 1,730 trials that have put 3,295 persons behind bars and seized about 1,400 weapons, five tons of marijuana, and about 27 million euros from trafficking in various illegal substances. As for the pursuit of the rioters, this is ongoing: thanks to support of the Office central pour la répression du banditisme (OCRB) [NOTE: This body dates from 1973 and addresses crimes of the sort that in the U.S. are generally the province of the FBI: armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion, etc. --Trans.] and the Office central pour la répression des trafics illicites de stupéfiants (OCRTIS) [NOTE: Operating as part of the Police judiciaire, OCRTIS was created in 1953. --Trans.], ten suspects, including one minor under 14, were taken into custody yesterday evening in Brest for firing a hunting rifle at a police van and a police car. The shots were fired on the night of last Nov. 7-8 in the sensitive district of Pontanezen, as officials arrived at a school fire.

Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003
Phone: 253-535-7219
Home page:
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.