Police have arrested four unaccompanied minor migrants in Bordeaux in connection with the burglaries or attempted burglaries of 28 pharmacies in the city and surrounding area.
Officers arrested the minor migrants over the weekend as they were caught in the act of trying to break into a pharmacy. Deputy prosecutor Olivier Etienne requested three of the four remain in custody until their trial.
The prosecutor added that while all four of the migrants claim to be minors, at least two of them are actually adults after the prosecution checked their backgrounds with the Gironde departmental security department’s “unaccompanied minors” (MNA) group, 20 Minutes reports.
The MNA group has previously dismantled an Algerian migrant network run by a family which used dozens of minor migrants to commit crimes including violent robberies.
The 28 burglaries and attempted burglaries, which have seen some pharmacies robbed more than once, have all been reported since the French government, led by President Emmanuel Macron, ordered the country into lockdown on March 17th to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
The lockdown, which was initially meant to last just 15 days, has since been extended by the government until May 11th, with President Macron announcing the extension in a televised address on Monday.
“The epidemic is starting to slow down. The results are there,” Macron said but admitted: “Our country was not sufficiently ready for this crisis. We will all draw all the consequences.”
French prisons, which continue to be overcrowded, have also seen at least 8,000 inmates released since the start of the lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of the virus within the prison system.
“The overcrowding rate, which was 119 per cent on March 1st with more than 72,400 inmates, was 107 per cent on April 7th with 64,439 inmates. We, therefore, have close to 8,000 fewer detainees,” French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said last week.
Over the weekend, Adeline Hazan, the Comptroller-General of Places of Deprivation of Liberty (CGLPL), called for the government to release another 7,000 inmates who are near the end of their sentences.
The prisons comptroller argued that the prison system simply was not prepared for a pandemic, saying: “Given this prison overcrowding that we have known for decades, it would have been obvious that we had to foresee what could happen in the event of an epidemic and unfortunately we realise that it was not done.”
Ms Hazan added that those with six months left in their sentences should be released. But she argued dangerous inmates, such as violent criminals and convicted terrorists, should not be part of the release programme.