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Top French cop arrested on drug trafficking claims

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2011-09-30

Lyon’s second-in-command police chief (pictured) and three other senior officers have been arrested over claims by internal investigators that they were complicit in drug trafficking and corruption, rocking the French police force to its core.

Three top police officers were taken into police custody Friday following the arrest of the city’s deputy police chief on Thursday, as part of a major internal investigation into drug trafficking and corruption.

Deputy police chief Michel Neyret, 55, was arrested by the General Inspection Service (IGS) – or the police’s internal police force – along with his wife at his home in France’s southern city of Lyon on Thursday. He is suspected of having compensated informants with batches of confiscated drugs, then “helping” the criminals to resell the products. Neyret was formerly lauded for his successes in cutting drug crime in the central Lyon region.

Police say several other suspects have been questioned, including one man who is said to have furnished Neyret with luxury cars, including a Ferrari and a Rolls Royce, during his stays in the Mediterranean city of Cannes.

Links between cops and the mob

Judges in Paris who are leading the case say that the IGS investigators have evidence of “links between the police and organised criminals (…) French and Italian mobsters”. The transactions are said to have involved narcotics transported from South America, and are linked to a Paris-region cocaine ring dismantled by police in November of last year. Swiss bank accounts used to channel profits have also been discovered, the police have reported.

Interior Minister Claude Guéant said Friday that “appropriate action” will be taken against the officers if they are found guilty, which he said would be “extremely hurtful” and “a great shame”.

According to AFP, police sources described the news as a “scandal” that had provoked “shock waves” through the police force.

Date created : 2011-09-30