Lyon’s deputy police chief suspected of compensating informants with batches of confiscated drugs and working with criminals
The French police force has been shaken by what could become its biggest corruption scandal in decades after Lyon’s deputy police chief, nicknamed “Supercop” for his fight against drugs, was arrested on suspicion of colluding with international drugs barons.
Michel Neyret, 55, the bouffant-haired and charismatic Lyon detective, was arrested at home along with his wife and is being held in custody.
He is suspected of having compensated informants with batches of confiscated drugs; police claim that Nyret then worked with the criminals to resell the products. He is being questioned about corruption, international drugs trafficking and money-laundering.
Neyret, however, is regarded as a hero for his success in cutting drug crime and stopping jewellery heists in the Lyon area. He had appeared regularly in the media to talk about Lyon’s success in busting crime; he was also a script adviser on a recent feature film about Lyon gang crime.
Three other senior officers were also arrested yesterday in swoops from Lyon to Grenoble and the investigation spread to Cannes on the French riviera.
Several other people linked to organised crime were being questioned in Lyon and Cannes including a man in his 30s believed to have provided Neyret with luxury cars, including a Ferrari and a Rolls Royce.
Judges working on the case said they were investigating links between the police and French organised crime as well as potentially the Italian mafia.
The trafficking is said to have involved hard drugs transported from South America, linked to a Paris-region cocaine ring dismantled by police last November. Judges are investigating Swiss bank accounts allegedly used to channel profits.
Neyret’s lawyers said he contests all the allegations. French police were stupefied at the arrests.
If a web of corruption is uncovered at the top of the French force, it would be a major scandal. The interior minister Claude Gueant said that if the allegations are true, it would be “immensely painful” for the French police.
The investigation comes just as Nicolas Sarkozy’s inner-circle has been hit by a series of political party-funding corruption investigations and the country is in a state of soul-searching about sleaze.
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