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Twelve French police arrested in Marseille corruption probe

AFP/GERARD JULIEN

Twelve police officers in the French Mediterranean city of Marseille were arrested on Tuesday, suspected of stealing drugs and cash from dealers and taking contraband cigarettes. The case is the latest in a series of corruption charges against French law enforcers.

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The officers were part of a special squad and are believed to have taken a cut out of drugs, cigarettes and money seized during law enforcement operations.

The practice “spread across the service for a while”, according to prosecutor Jacques Dallest.

They have been kept in custody as the investigation continues.

The probe into the special squad opened at the start of 2012 after internal complaints.

A special committee, headed by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, examined crime in Marseille, which has been the scene of increasing gang violence, in early September.

French law enforcement has been hit by a series of scandals recently:

  • Lyon deputy police chief Michel Neyret was arrested, accused of accepting goods and favours from top local crooks and charged with corruption, influence peddling, drug trafficking and association with criminals in 2011;
  • Former Lyon magistrate Francis Montoy was charged with corruption while serving in Cayenne, French Guiana, last month;
  • Seven Lyon police officers were accused in mid-September of “passive corruption” after allegedly trading favours with a drug-trafficking family.

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