The name slams like a saloon door.
A bit like these plainclothes cops who look like cowboys in charge of fighting against petty and medium delinquency.
Specialists in flagrante delicto, the anti-crime brigades (Bac) work in direct contact with thieves, burglars and dealers, in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône) as elsewhere.
Except that Marseille has never been a territory like any other.
At the beginning of the 2010s, the northern districts of the city were vampirized a little more every day by drug trafficking, against the backdrop of settling of scores between rival gangs.
A relatively new phenomenon at the time.
Place Beauvau in Paris, the interior ministers who follow one another are calling for seizures as numerous and voluminous as possible.
The pressure then descends to the Bac group leaders and their men.
For the methods, the hierarchy prefers not to know.
Provided that the results are there.
Freed from criminal proceedings and doped with adrenaline
It is in this context that a deviant culture thrives among the “Baqueux” in Paris and in Seine-Saint-Denis as in the Phocaean city.
In Marseille, freed from criminal proceedings and doped with adrenaline, they allow themselves all the excesses.
Illegal searches "Mexican" in order to get hold of narcotics or money, samples of hash bars or bundles of banknotes during arrests carried out outside any procedure, seized for their personal account cartons of contraband cigarettes ...
These thefts become the daily life of a minority but significant fringe of the 70 police officers of the Bac Nord de Marseille.
Even some thugs complain about it.
The IGPN, the police force, gets involved and finds that the rumors are supported by at least three testimonies of past or current members of the service.
Among them, Sébastien Bennardo, former member of the Bac Nord, will even publish a book on the subject.
Today, he no longer wants to talk about this affair.
"She only caused me problems," he breathes.
Justice is alerted by Alain Gardère, the Marseille police prefect.
In February 2012, a judicial investigation was opened for thefts and extortion in organized gangs.
For several months, the offices and vehicles of the Bac Nord were subject to judicial interceptions.
At the beginning of October of the same year, twelve police officers were indicted and seven of them placed in pre-trial detention.
In isolation, of course, to prevent them from coming into contact with old acquaintances.
"It was the omerta"
The public prosecutor of Marseilles, Jacques Dallest, then evokes the existence of a “system” and of “gangrene” which would have struck the North Bac.
The affair takes on a national resonance.
A few days later, Manuel Valls, then Minister of the Interior, announces the dissolution of the day service, cataloged very quickly as a benchmark of ripoux.
In total, twenty “Baqueux” are indicted in this case.
Internally, disciplinary sanctions are raining.
Three of them were dismissed from the police and twelve were temporarily excluded.
Part on the hats of wheels, the instruction then bogged down over seven long years.
"The thugs, potential victims of the police, had no interest in speaking, and within the Bac, it was the omerta, enlightens a connoisseur of the file.
Leaks in the press and even within the police have further complicated matters.
The evidence is therefore difficult to gather.
As for the elements to be charged, they are largely based on the tapping of conversations held inside the cars.
A fragility of the file exploited by the defense.
"We are in Marseille, people talk a lot, sometimes exaggerate and joke regularly, including the police, relativizes Me Virgile Reynaud, lawyer for four defendants.
Everything is not to be taken at face value, especially when the tapping is the subject of transcription errors.
An argument that however comes up against words that are sometimes unambiguous.
"I open the bag, I look, but hey, there was more than 2,500 euros, I feasted on five colleagues", for example said one of the group leaders to two of his men, believing himself to be safe. ears, in July 2012.
"This case illustrates the ambiguity of what is expected of the police officers"
In June 2019, Pierre Philippon, the last investigating judge in charge of the case, ended up ordering the referral of eighteen former members of the Bac to the criminal court, in particular for theft in assembly of narcotic products, money or cigarettes "by persons holding public authority in the exercise of their functions".
The charges of a criminal nature (extortion and willful violence in organized gangs) are dropped for lack of evidence.
Almost a decade later, these men aged between 37 and 60 must therefore be tried from this Monday by the Marseille Criminal Court.
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"The mountain gave birth to a mouse," says Me Alain Lhote, the lawyer for one of the former group leaders of the Bac Nord.
Basically, the defendants were cops who wanted to do good business and who, for that, needed
With this objective, they used small quantities of products seized on the right or on the left to reward their informants, that is all… This case illustrates the ambiguity of what is expected of the police officers who fight against the big drug trafficking ” .
"The case has been carefully unraveled"
At Bac Nord, this question seemed to have been settled for a long time.
"Writing minutes for small seizures was seen as a waste of time, including by our hierarchy, on the principle that the people concerned would never be prosecuted again", explains one of the police officers involved.
In addition, the investigation did not allow to demonstrate personal enrichment through a possible resale of products, even if the study of bank accounts revealed that some of them did not use their credit card. that exceptionally.
"He was very thrifty, bordering on avarice ..." retort without laughing the ex-companion of one of the group leaders.
“The case has been carefully unraveled, laments Omar Djellil, activist from Marseille, author in 2009 of a denunciation of the theft of contraband objects by a crew of the North Bac.
The heaviest loads deflated and one of the main officials at the time, Pascal Lalle, the departmental director of public security, was never worried.
The trial is scheduled to last until April 23.