The crazy figures of the XXL anti-drug operation in Marseille

In Marseille, a law enforcement operation to combat drug trafficking mobilizes thousands of police officers and gendarmes.

The crazy figures of the XXL anti-drug operation in Marseille

In Marseille, a law enforcement operation to combat drug trafficking mobilizes thousands of police officers and gendarmes. In the viewfinder, trafficking controlled by the Yoda and DZ Mafia gangs whose scale and financial value are extraordinary.

This is the most important sweeping operation ever implemented to fight drug trafficking in Marseille. The “Place Net XXL” operation was launched on Monday March 18 in Marseille to destabilize the traffickers who have established themselves in certain districts of France’s second city. And the first day of the law enforcement operation seems to have borne fruit: seizures of narcotics and cars involved in trafficking in large numbers and even arrests.

Gérald Darmanin, who worked in the shadows on this operation for six months, is going to Marseille this Tuesday March 19, the day after the launch of the large-scale operation, to take stock of the captures from the division's police station North of Marseille. He is accompanied by the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, and the Minister Delegate in charge of Citizenship, Sabrina Agresti-Roubache. If the trip of three ministers was not enough to show the importance of fighting drug trafficking, Emmanuel Macron himself made the surprise of going to Marseille at the time of the assessment of Operation XXL.

While the “net square” operations were put in place in the last quarter of 2023, the XXL version of the system is extraordinary due to the forces mobilized. 750 police officers and gendarmes were deployed for the single day of Monday March 18 and simultaneous interventions in different districts of the city, notably in the city of Castellane, a hot spot for Marseille traffic. The intervention teams of the territorial crime division, the territorial units of the northern districts, the Republican Security Companies (CRS) and the dog brigades, specialized in the detection of narcotics were on the ground alongside the police units. national investigation dedicated to “net square” operations.

After such an introduction, the “Place Net XXL” operation will continue in Marseille and its surroundings. 4,000 members of the police will be mobilized per week in Marseille, but also further afield in the Bouches-du-Rhône department.

Ultimately, the “Place Net XXL” operation should lead to 170 targeted interventions against deal points, strategic points or influential figures in drug trafficking in Marseille. If the city center of the Marseille city and around ten red-light districts will attract the main attention – the Castellance district of course, but also other cities such as Rosiers, Campagne Lévêque or Château-Saint-Loup – , the police will be mobilized more widely. The port of Marseille and Saint-Charles station, which can serve as an entry or exit point for narcotics, will be placed under surveillance and locked. Likewise, the motorways and toll barriers surrounding Marseille and the surrounding area will be placed under the surveillance of surveillance and intervention platoons (Psig) and specialized protection platoons (Pspg). Gendarmes will even be deployed in neighboring towns such as Gardanne or Château Renard explains Le Figaro.

This surveillance will go beyond French borders since the “Place Net XXL” operation will benefit from the support of the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI) which is participating in the fight against drug trafficking at the request of Gérald Darmanin. "We operate as in the fight against terrorism to prevent the mafias from taking power" indicate the police to the same newspaper.

In addition to the 170 planned operations, a list of the 50 “most wanted” traffickers has been drawn up by the Anti-Narcotics Office (Ofast). These individuals suspected of directing trafficking, many from abroad, were the subject of surveillance techniques in order to provide investigators with “enough information to arrest them”. One of these men, the alleged leader of the Yoga drug gang named Félix Bingui, was arrested in Casablanca, Morocco, on March 8.

New means are being deployed to fight against drug trafficking which is gaining strength in Marseille. It must be said that the government was challenged and worried by the comments of the magistrates during the Senate commission of inquiry into the fight against drug trafficking. “We are losing the war against traffickers in Marseille,” said the head of the organized crime department of the Marseille prosecutor’s office, Isabelle Fort, as Le Figaro recalls. Trafficking has become so established that it has become a very lucrative business, particularly for the two rival gangs that dominate the Marseille market: Yoda and the DZ Mafia. The two clans compete for deal points, some of which can reach a daily turnover of 80,000 euros according to newspaper information. Astronomical sums which arouse desire.

If Marseille is the first city to be the subject of an “XXL net square” operation, as one of the most plagued by drug trafficking, other French cities should soon see similar systems organized. “The idea is to dry up traffic and break an economic model by calling on the big barons but also the small ones, likely to take over from them” explained the Minister of the Interior. The objective is clear: regain control over drug trafficking.