“Crack trafficking, carried out by micro-networks closer to consumers, is unique”

“Crack trafficking, carried out by micro-networks closer to consumers, is unique”

Virginie Lahaye is head of the narcotics brigade of the Paris police headquarters. She explains, in an interview with World, the specificities of the fight against crack trafficking.

What are the particularities of crack, among drug trafficking?

It is a singular traffic, conducted by micro-networks closer to consumers. All it takes is a “cook” [en charge de préparer les doses à partir d’une base de cocaïne] and a salesperson to supply customers, in a form of short circuit, without major logistical problems. This traffic, both low cost but very important, is mainly located in the north of Paris and in Seine-Saint-Denis. A “kitchen” may consist of only a mug, a stove and a saucepan.

Certainly, the turnover is not amazing, because a “pebble” is not very expensive (about 10 euros), but it’s a small business that works very well. Sellers sometimes offer free doses at the start to gain the customers they know how to maintain, as the product is addictive.

What are the health and social consequences of this trafficking?

Crack lives up to its nickname of “poor man’s cocaine”. It can be had for very little money, but its physical and mental consequences are disastrous and lead to rapid desocialization. It is a very addictive product which very quickly leads to problematic consumption; a grip from which it is particularly difficult to get out. Its consumption has aggressiveness, begging and prostitution as corollaries. We face particularly difficult situations to manage, where people without financial means are ready to prostitute themselves or commit assaults to pay for their next dose.

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Crack is also one of the rare traffics where coins are found during searches. There are few seizures of criminal assets compared to other drug trafficking.

What is the link between the networks selling crack and those importing cocaine?

It’s night and day when it comes to organization. Trafficking linked to the importation of cocaine is on a completely different scale. Regarding the supply of cocaine intended for crack, a product of high quality, at the maximum level of purity, is required, arriving directly from the producer. The use of “mules” is thus preferred, with smugglers leaving from Suriname, Guyana or the West Indies. The drug can be transported to the mainland in suitcases, on passengers (in soles, padding of clothing, etc.) or even ingested in the form of eggs.

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