INFO EUROPE 1 – Drug trafficking: the lucrative business of “cannabis farms”

NEWS EUROPE 1

In April 2021, in an interview with Figaro, Emmanuel Macron made the fight against drugs “the mother of all fights”. In the process, the interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, reinforced his “narcotics plan” with police reinforcements and systematic “harassment” of deal points.

2,778 traffic dismantled in the Paris metropolitan area in less than a year

Regularly, the “first policeman in France” boasts of his results, as during the ceremony for the liberation of Paris last Wednesday: 2,778 traffic stopped in the Paris urban area in less than a year, + 112% fixed fines issued, 50% more suspects arrested for drug trafficking compared to last year.

But faced with this police pressure, the smugglers adapt and circumvent it as usual. To avoid seizure of goods in ports or on the roads, some of them produce “locally” and grow their own production to directly supply their deal point. Cannabis culture thus appears to be an “accessible and profitable culture”, describes a recent memo from the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police (DCPJ) obtained by Europe 1.

To support their observation, the authors of this paper state that a six-foot plantation produces about 1.44 kilos of grass – at a rate of two to five harvests per year – and thus generates an annual turnover of about 14,400 euros. This makes it possible to get a very quick return on the 500 euros initially invested in the purchase of seeds and equipment sold legally online, or even directly in stores, called “growshops”, of which there are 300 in France.

Millions of euros at stake

Profit, high, can easily increase. For a plantation of 1,000 plants, which would produce 240 kilos of grass each year, the turnover of a “cannabis farm” is estimated by specialized investigators at 1.02 million euros per year for the wholesale, up to 2.4 million euros for the retail trade.

If the image of Épinal of the 68s growing a few cannabis plants in their garden for their own consumption still exists, organized criminal groups have industrialized the production, sometimes even calling on the know-how of Dutch experts – former smugglers or producers – who come to France to establish their cannabis cultivation.

Farms with anti-theft systems

Police regularly discover “farms” of up to several thousand feet located within disused industrial areas or isolated houses. This industrialization is now so widespread that traffickers provide anti-theft devices such as “intrusion alarms and video surveillance systems as well as traps and hire surveillance personnel,” the specialist investigators note in another recent note. .

Alliances with Vietnamese gardeners

To counter the action of the police and try to go unnoticed, they even invest in sound and heat insulation devices or even odor filters so that these places become almost undetectable. “The dismantling of industrial cannabis cultivation sites also almost systematically reveals the presence of heavy weapons [qui] aims in particular to protect cannabiculture from other criminal groups that engage in the destruction of competing sites”, continue the analysts from the judicial police.

Alliances with Vietnamese gardeners

The profiles of the traffickers who have taken up cannabis cultivation in France are generally those usually found in the drug trade, located in the urban crime scene. Indoor cannabis production was also “a replacement activity” during the health crisis, note the authors of this memo. Police also observed the opportunistic arrival in the area of ​​other groups from local banditry or the Traveler community.

Some Parisian smugglers also form alliances with the Vietnamese community, whose nationals are employed as managers or gardeners directly on “farms”. “By positioning the production in this way, the traffickers free themselves from import networks. They also choose their plants, some of which are genetically modified and produce a product with a much higher THC level, which will be sold at a higher price”, analyzes an investigator from northern France, where the phenomenon began to appear several years ago. He concludes: “This cannabis, which is increasingly concentrated in THC, is a major problem for the health of consumers.”

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