Rival gangs in the French city of Montpellier engaged in a street fight armed with machetes, despite the lockdown measures enacted by the government to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
The violence took place in the Gambetta district at around 3:30 pm on Wednesday. Despite the presence of machetes and other weapons, many of which were left at the scene, no injuries were reported.
Police arrested three individuals in connection to the brawl and police say they are hunting for other suspects who fled the area using the city’s public transport system, Midi Librereports.
Investigators say the violence erupted out of a gang rivalry revolving around the local sale of contraband cigarettes and hashish and that fights between members of both groups have occurred during the last three evenings in a row.
France’s nation-wide lockdown measures, which President Emmanuel Macron announced in mid-March, have greatly hindered the ability for criminal gangs to sell drugs and other items on the street.
According to a report from news agency Reuters, the lockdown has led to a spike in prices for street cannabis across France.
Yann Bastiere, a senior police union official, said that prices of some drugs have nearly doubled in some areas, saying: “The price of a 100-gram bar of resin went from 280 euros to 500 euros in a week in Marseille.”
Thierry Colombie, an expert in organised crime, blamed the increase in prices on the lack of fresh supplies of drugs coming from countries like Morocco due to the Wuhan coronavirus lockdown measures.
The European Union police agency Europol has warned that some organised criminals may be adapting to the new lockdown measures and shifting focus to other areas such as fraud and selling counterfeit medical items to take advantage of the outbreak.