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Monday, 29 September 2008

Les Gitans (Gypsies) and Les Maghrébins (North Africans), based in Grenoble housing estates, have adopted ultra-violent methods

22:08 |

Les Gitans (Gypsies) and Les Maghrébins (North Africans), based in Grenoble housing estates, have adopted ultra-violent methods that contrast with the codes of the old-school Corsican and Italian mafiosi they displaced. Police are battling against a similar underworld shift around Paris, Marseilles and other big cities.Officers managed to arrest Lamiri's alleged shooter as he tried to make his getaway from a wooded hillside overlooking the Varces prison after he had fired six rounds from a distance of 300 yards - but they were lucky. Gendarmes had spotted a parked motorcycle with the numberplate of a stolen car and had decided to wait for the driver to return. He turned out to be a 58-year-old convicted robber who was carrying a 7.65mm rifle with a telescopic sight.Rachida Dati, the Justice Minister, said from the scene that the murder was a blow to the prison system but congratulated the gendarmes on their catch. “The man denies the facts but he was arrested when he was getting to his motorbike, which had a false licence plate and his rifle with telescopic sight was still warm,” she said.About 100 police and firefighters were sent to the jail to quash a riot and put out fires started by prisoners, most of whom are awaiting trial.France has taken elaborate precautions over the past 20 years to stem a series of prison breakouts via helicopter but the authorities had ignored warnings that the holding centre at Varces was vulnerable to attack from the nearby hill. A guards' union complained this summer that people used the vantage point to toss food, drugs and mobile telephones to prisoners.The shooting of Lamiri, said to be a senior figure in the Gypsies gang, followed some of the worst multiple shootings seen in France.The vendetta turned truly bloody last year after a court acquitted five men from the Maghrébin gang who were charged with murdering Lamiri's brother. In February four men in a fake police vehicle stopped a Maghrébin car and killed three of the occupants, all aged 22. One of the victims had been acquitted of the Lamiri murder.
Prosecutors say that the new-style gangs, based in the ethnic housing estates, which are often no-go areas for police, are difficult to track.
“These kids accept early death as the price for living well,” a police investigator said. “They say they do not expect to live beyond 30. The money goes into beautiful cars, parties with cocaine and prostitutes, sometimes trips to Saint-Tropez to splash out on the beaches. They have been fed on violent TV series and films. They live in the present and they have made death mundane.”

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