French drug lords use TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram to recruit teenage assassins

A group of teenage hitmen who have apparently been hired by drug lords engaged in turf wars in Marseille are now bragging about their actions on social media as a way to earn bonuses on top of what they are already making.

The Telegraph reported that these drug lords are using prominent social media platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, to act as “crime influencers” as a way to recruit young people to fight in the murderous disputes.

The second-largest city in France, Marseille, has already experienced 22 fatal shootings this year, beating out the whole number of shootings in 2022. This has made it Europe’s murder capital. The brunt of the killing stems from two rival gangs: DZ Mafia and Yoda. It was reported that these two groups engage one another on almost a daily basis.

However, the high death rate between the two groups means that they are resorting to recruiting young people over social media. Some experts have referred to the young people who join either of these gangs as “Kleenex killers,” suggesting that they are just as disposable as Kleenex tissue.

One such killer is an 18-year-old named Matteo F, who was arrested in April. He was charged with the murder of three people involved in gangs, aged 15, 16, and 20. The authorities reportedly believe that Matteo was provided €200,000 for the crimes he committed, but he is also suspected of being involved in six or seven other hits.

Matteo apparently shared a video through encrypted messaging apps, saying: “I’m going to rake in the contracts bro. I’m gonna take them down. On my mother’s life, I’m piling up the contracts. I’m having a laugh.”

The 18-year-old did not show any remorse when he was finally caught, saying: “It’s just as well I wasn’t carrying a gun when you arrested me otherwise I would have died using it.” The teen is from a middle-class family and was recruited through Snapchat, per the report. He was provided guns and a vehicle, and he was told to avoid Marseille if he was not carrying out hits. He was also told to film the hits so that there was proof that they were successful.

Experts have noted that the “sociology” of how gang killings are carried out is changing. One police source said: “Before, a limited number of professional killers paid €100,000 per contract at the behest of a given network. Now we are coming up against less experienced but no less dangerous profiles. They are handed a weapon before being given a target, which can be a deal point or a group of people.”

State prefect of the Bouches-du-Rhone region, Frederique Camilleri, said that the prevalence of younger hitmen directly reflects the lower-level targets, saying: “Three or four years ago, those targeted in drug-dealing disputes were usually high-ranking in the ring’s hierarchy. They were harder to reach as they took precautions. Such hits were more complicated. Now they go after dogsbodies.”

“It has gone from lieutenants to the ‘choufs [scouts], who are often very young - that’s why 15- or 16-year-old kids die. And as the killers, often themselves young, do not know how to use their weapons and they shoot in bursts, no one is safe from a stray bullet,” Jerome Pierrat, a journalist specializing in Marseille gang warfare, said.

The 22nd murder happened in the Paternelles housing estate, which is at the center of the war.


Image: Title: matteo f
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