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Last updated at 16:05 BST, Monday, 03 September 2012

France's drug wars

Summary

3 September 2012

A French senator has called for the army to be brought in to restore order in France's second city Marseille after two people were killed in a battle over drugs. The latest victim is the nineteenth so far this year and most of the shootings are carried out with machine guns.

Reporter:

Chris Bockman

French police

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Report

France's second city is in the grip of a violent turf war over drugs. It's not new but it's getting worse all the time. 19 people have now been killed in the Marseille region this year alone, two this week. The police say nearly all the killings are carried out by rival drug dealers on the gritty housing estates in the north of the city, using machine guns from eastern Europe bought on the black market.

While the government quickly ruled out sending in the military, the prime minister has announced an urgent meeting will be held next week to examine the situation in France's second-biggest city.

The illegal drug trade used to be run by the Marseille and Corsican underworld. However, the authorities say they have now been replaced by far more ruthless and reckless French youths of North African origin who see drugs as a quick route out of poverty.

With drug dealing the biggest single employer on many housing estates, the police say no matter how many people are arrested there are always youths ready to fill the vacuum.

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Vocabulary

in the grip of

suffering, experiencing

turf war

battle for control over territory or rights

rival

competing

gritty

tough, unkind

black market

the illegal trade of goods

ruled out

decided against

underworld

criminal community

ruthless

cruel

reckless

thoughtless, careless

vacuum

emptiness