Adrift teenagers or socially integrated students, women are taking an increasingly active part in the drug trade, after having long been relegated to the simple rank of mule and nanny.
Mules, nannies, dealer companions… Sometimes forced, sometimes consenting, often in the shadow of men, women have always been present in drug trafficking. “In the housing estates, the dealers identify those who need money – mainly single mothers – and, for small sums of money, hide their drugs in their homes”, explains to BFMTV.com a police officer who cut his teeth. for 20 years in the narcotics squad.
But in recent years, women have taken an active part in trafficking, rising to the rank of deliverers, resellers and even managers of their own illicit and lucrative network. In early March, a 14-year-old girl was arrested on a deal point with 600 grams of cannabis in Marseille.
No typical profile
“It is a phenomenon that we have seen more and more in the cities for four, five years”, remarks an investigator at the narcotics brigade of the Marseille city.
“Generally, these are runaway minors or young adults in precarious situations,” he summarizes.
These women who engage in drug trafficking cannot, however, be reduced to a “typical profile”. Some, socially integrated, also enter this parallel market with the idea of quickly earning large sums of money, then returning to the path of legality.
Not without a hitch… Me David Curial, lawyer at the Paris Bar, remembers a case in which he represented a couple of women who, motivated by the lure of profit, had launched their own network, exclusively female, in 2020.
“It worked like a kind of mobile pharmacy, selling cannabis, cocaine and 3-MMC”, the drug used by Pierre Palmade before causing a road accident which seriously injured three members of the same family .
“Their strength was the marketing they did on social networks. In particular, they presented 3-MMC as a substance that was not very addictive, and offered significant markdowns on it”, details the lawyer whose clients were sentenced. to penalties ranging from 3 to 5 years in prison.
Despite the risks that this entails, many are those who seize the “opportunities” offered to them, confirms Sarah Perrin, doctor in sociology. She dedicated his thesis to the growing share occupied by women drug users in the resale of drugs, without being forced to do so by men. Teachers, nurses, project managers, physiotherapists… The profiles of the user-dreamers that Sarah Perrin has studied are many and varied.
Victims of gender stereotypes
“It usually starts with a dealer who offers the user to buy ‘in bulk’ to benefit from ‘discounts’. The woman will keep part of it for her own consumption and resell the rest at a higher price, which allows him, in the end, to repay his share”, analyzes Sarah Perrin. “In this scheme, the financial gain linked to the resale of narcotics is marginal, enrichment is not the desired objective. They do not consider themselves to be professional dealers”.
These women resell their products to a restricted circle of consumers (friends or acquaintances) and in places that are “safer” than the street: “At home, with friends or in the party places they frequent”, notes the sociologist . Because for women who become dealers, insecurity is an essential criterion to take into account.
“Because of gender stereotypes, women are sexualized, discredited, considered inferior. All of this makes them more vulnerable to scams and physical attacks than men in this environment,” says Sarah Perrin.
However, some use these stereotypes as an asset and play on the characteristics attributed to them. “Women are perceived as sweet, kind, naive… Some accentuate these traits to gain the trust of customers. Sometimes, they feminize themselves by playing on clothing, speech, attitude. Others opt for the opposite strategy and become masculinized in order to gain credibility”, lists the sociologist.
According to Sarah Perrin, these gender stereotypes also help them to pass under the radar of the police “who are still confined to the typical profile of the dealer, that of the man, young, precarious and racialized”.
“It is still true for the checks carried out on the public highway”, admits the investigator at the narcotics brigade of Marseille. Experienced in deal techniques, he recognizes that delivery girls “well dressed, a little chic, with a socially integrated appearance” can go unnoticed in the street.
“On the other hand, on the investigative work, the sex of the dealer has no impact on the methodology,” he insists. “Our role is to observe the functioning of the network and to determine who watches, who coalesces, who sells, who manages. Whether it’s a man or a woman, we will notice it and it will not escape us.”