On Marseille visit, Macron launches 'XXL' crackdown on French drug gangs

President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday launched a major operation against drug trafficking in Marseille and other French cities, saying that gangland battles that last year left dozens dead had made life a misery for residents.

On a visit to the southern port city that this year will host some Paris 2024 Olympics events, Macron said almost 100 people had been detained in the first raids.

"In Marseille and other cities in France, we have launched an unprecedented operation to put a stop to drug trafficking and ensure republican order," Macron wrote on X, formerly Twitter, after arriving in the city.

He said that operations would be launched in about 10 French cities. Macron added that it would be an "XXL" cleanup.

Marseille has been particularly badly hit in turf wars for control of lucrative drug dealing across France. Some 49 people were killed and 123 people injured in drug related violence in 2023. Four of the dead were caught in the crossfire of gun battles.

As part of the crackdown, some 4,000 police will be mobilised in Marseille and surrounding areas for the next three weeks, according to a source close to the issue.

About 900 were stationed in the city on Monday for the start of an operation that resulted in 98 arrests in two days, with 71 people taken into custody and four guns seized, the police prefecture said.

The prefecture said that 385,000 euros ($420,000) in cash and 8.7 kilogrammes (19.1 pounds) of cannabis and 339 grams of cocaine were seized.

"Sending them here won't make any difference," one youth told the president.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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