Police break up secret party network in Paris

Party-goers in Ile-de-France have been attending illegal events gathering up to 800 people during the health pandemic. Three organisers have been taken into police custody

10 December 2020
By Joanna York

The Paris police force has dismantled a network of secret party organisers that has been operating in the Ile-de-France region throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The illegal gatherings brought together groups of up to 800 people to dance, drink and take drugs in secret locations around the French capital, with disregard for social distancing, curfew and confinement measures. 

Three suspects have been taken into police custody, including the alleged organiser of the events and the manager of an online ticket sales website. They each face being charged with endangering the lives of others, punishable by one year in prison, and a €15,000 fine.

Secret parties a feat of organisation 

On September 27, police in la Courneuve, north of Paris, discovered an illegal rave with over 800 attendees taking place in an unused warehouse. The space had been converted into a giant dance floor with two music mixing consoles for DJs, and Wi-Fi.

Police managed to identify the organiser, who was operating as the manager of a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting electronic music in France. 

The 800 tickets for the event in la Courneuve had been sold for €10-€20 via online platform Shotgun, with details of the event then sent by email. A spokesperson from the commissariat de la Courneuve said: “After buying a ticket, the party-goer, who had given an email address, received a message with the time and the GPS coordinates for the event. 

“To avoid raising suspicions, people were asked to arrive alone or in very small groups.”

Guides were provided to help attendees find their way to the venue from the Metro and bouncers and other door staff had also been hired for the event. 

Police now investigating other events

Police are now investigating 12 raves that have happened in the capital since January, with at least two taking place during confinement. These include a party held in a tunnel in the 15th arrondissement on October 31, and a 300-person party held in an unused train tunnel in the 13th arrondissement on November 21. 

The mayor of the 13th arrondissement, Jérôme Coumet, described the event as “scandalous”.

He said: “There is the exposure to health risks that everyone understands. But also the fact that the location is not fit to receive the public, so even a small accident could become very serious because the emergency services do not have easy access.” 

But the organiser of the event told news source BFMTV that such parties are necessary for young people. “We decided to join the resistance and launch this chance to hide together and party because young people no longer have anywhere to be together.”

Illegal gatherings appear to have risen in recent weeks. Police figures shared with news source Le Figaro show 1,032 fines were issued for noise disturbance linked to illegal parties from October 17 to December 1 in Paris - a 32% rise compared with the six previous weeks.

Nightclubs have been closed throughout France since March over fears social distancing measures such as mask-wearing and keeping space between people cannot be respected inside. 

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