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15 investigations into French police for abuse, drug deals

PARIS (AP) — French authorities came under mounting pressure Wednesday to disband a special police unit in one of the country's poorest regions because it is facing at least 15 investigations into officers suspected of drug trafficking, violence, theft or falsifying police reports.

News of the investigations has re-ignited French anger over police abuse, after weeks of protests in France demanding racial justice and accountability for officers who overstep their authority.

Six officers with the CSI 93 unit in the Seine-Saint-Denis region northeast of Paris are in the custody of internal police watchdog IGPN, accused of theft, drug possession, or extorting money from drug dealers, according to a judicial official. The six are targeted by a formal judicial inquiry.

In addition, about 15 other preliminary investigations are under way into officers at the unit for similar alleged violations, the official said.

The Paris police chief is considering reorganizing the CSI 93 unit, according to broadcaster France-Info. Even if the unit is disbanded, the investigations will continue, according to the judicial official.

One man says members of the CSI 93 planted drugs on him and then beat him violently, according to his lawyer Yassine Bouzrou.

Bouzrou accuses the justice system of minimizing the accusations and being too reluctant and too slow to prosecute abusive police.

Lawyers for the accused police could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Seine-Saint-Denis is the poorest region of mainland France and among its most ethnically diverse, including North African and Black populations that trace their roots to former French colonies.

The recent French protests were inspired by the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death, but focused more France’s own problems with discrimination and police brutality.

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