Wild fireworks, the new clandestine business

07:00, 11 July 2022

Spelling isn’t the forte of the host of the “Mortier34” account opened on Telegram messages in December 2021: ” Hello. New channel created, the old one has been deleted because it was checked. » Here we sell mortars, rockets, bison fireworks and other smoke bombs. Excluding promotions, it costs 100 euros for a set of ten eight-shot mortars, with “discreet home delivery” or at a relay point.

A new company is being structured on the model of drug ordering platforms known as “Ubershit”. “It’s part of a criminal logic, mostly related to drug trafficking,” we confirm to the general management of customs. Purchase through importing wholesale and resale of retail fireworks “are more and more related to operating modes” of drug trafficking, says a spokesperson for the General Directorate of the National Police (DGPN), for whom this is beneficial “the emergence of a new underground economy”.

This trade is part of a criminal logic, usually related to drug trafficking.

About fifteen years ago, the French were fond of personal multicolored missiles, which were called mortars for the convenience of the language, and some found them to be formidable projectiles to attack the security forces. Long limited to the periods of July 14 and the New Year, artisanal fireworks, more often in France than elsewhere in Europe, now make fun of the calendar. Very widespread in working-class areas, they occur everywhere from Brest to Limoges, day and night, feeding the news, such as during the attack on the police station in Champigny (Val-de-Marne) in October 2020, or incidents associated with Saint-Étienne’s relegation to Ligue 2 on May 29 at the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium.

Also read – Wild fireworks explode in some neighborhoods

Each candle tube, the most commonly used equipment model, can send multiple shots to 30 or 50 yards. If the explosive charge remains weak, the most powerful can break a vehicle’s glass or cause a fire. Their impact on a police officer on patrol is comparable to that of a shot from a defensive ball thrower (LBD), not to mention the risks of tinnitus and burns.

Attacks on police stations serve as advertising

As with narcotics, resellers rely on social networks, primarily Snapchat, filmed police raids occasionally used for commercials. While some attacks on police officers and firefighters are part of reprisals or competition between neighborhoods, others, orchestrated by traffickers, serve as a diversionary maneuver to monopolize law enforcement while a large delivery takes place in a neighboring city. “We realize that the dealers are multi-card, says a police source. They offer both drugs and mortars, even prostitution services…”

Measures have been taken in 2021 to better control the sale of these items, such as the obligation for the buyer to show proof of identity when purchasing and reporting suspicious transactions for the seller to the authorities. “Sales in stores have decreased and, apart from some scattered facts on the Vénissieux side, there are currently fewer shootings” notes a police officer from Lyon. The figures in Paris also fell sharply in the first half of 2022.

The dealers offer both drugs and mortars

But these regulatory efforts remain ineffective for international online commerce, especially in Poland or the Czech Republic, the main suppliers of French users. For example, Customs intercepted more than 345 kilos of fireworks mortars on postal or express freight in 2021, more than double that of 2020 (146.4 kilos). Some do not hesitate to cross the border to fill the trunk of their car. The most spectacular case dates back to October last year, with the arrest in Germany of two Frenchmen returning from the Czech Republic aboard an Iveco commercial vehicle filled with 1,240 kilograms of pyrotechnic devices: more than 5,000 pieces… A worthy volume of drug trafficking.

Data on the turnover of this company is still in its infancy. Last summer, a major retailer in Vénissieux, on the outskirts of Lyon, said it had made 10,000 euros in profit in less than a year. One hundred and twelve thousand machines had been confiscated from him on the eve of the national holiday, a prosperous period from which these new businessmen could take advantage again this year. “Large stock of mortar in preparation for July 14! †announces a reseller in Orleans on his Telegram account.

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