French drugs squad officer accused of stealing cocaine
‘Jonathan G’ seen carrying two large plastic bags out of building on night of theft
The entrance to the Paris criminal investigation department headquarters at 36 Quai des Orfèvres in the French capital. Photograph: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images
A member of the French brigade criminelle has become an official suspect in a crime committed in the group’s legendary headquarters at 36 Quai des Orfèvres for the second time in three months.
An officer from the drugs squad, identified only as Jonathan G (34), was charged on Wednesday night with the theft of 52.6 kilos of cocaine from the address made famous by the fictional Insp Maigret. He has been imprisoned at Fleury-Mérogis, south of Paris.
Jonathan G was hitherto regarded as a model policeman. He was arrested in his home town of Perpignan, where he was on holiday with his wife and children, on August 2nd. Unlike the vast majority of suspects, he did not “crack” under 96 hours of interrogation.
The cocaine, worth €2 million, has reportedly “vanished into thin air”. The accused officer was shopping with his family when he was arrested with €16,000 in cash in his rucksack.
Investigators found another €8,790 in cash in his Paris apartment, and €50,000 in his bank account. The fact that he has purchased seven small apartments in Perpignan led judges to add money laundering to charges against him.
Phoned colleaguesUntil the moment of his arrest, Jonathan G repeatedly phoned colleagues to seek information on the investigation, even though he was on holiday and had not been involved in the original drug seizure.
Shortly before the theft, Jonathan G had found a pretext to visit the room where seized evidence was held. It had an armoured door, no windows, and only three people had access to the key. Visitors had to be accompanied and sign a register.
A second officer from the drugs squad, who is known for his skills as a locksmith, was detained earlier this week and given the status of “assisted witness”, which falls short of being designated as a suspect, but means he must remain at the disposal of authorities. His name was found in financial documents in Jonathan G’s Paris apartment.
A policewoman who was on guard at the entrance to 36 Quai des Orfèvres on the night of the theft saw Jonathan G carry two large plastic bags out of the building. Four colleagues identified him as the man on video-surveillance images of the exit.
Cameras were supposed to have been installed throughout the building after a Canadian tourist said she was gang-raped there by four officers at the end of April. Three officers were suspended and two were charged in the rape case.
Jonathan G “had to be a complete idiot to think he could take 50 kilos of cocaine from the drug squad and sell it”, former police commissioner René-Georges Querry told BFM TV. “Frankly, this guy is more imbecile than crooked cop.”
Commentators speculated that Jonathan G was willing to risk imprisonment on the assumption he could sell the hidden drugs after his release.
The flic ripoux (crooked cop) is a cultural fixture in France, on the borderline between crime and punishment. Eugène-François Vidocq, the late-18th and early-19th century criminal who became the father of modern criminology, was immortalised by Victor Hugo and Balzac.
Films about flics ripoux are a French cinema genre to themselves. In a study of the films, the Huffington Post concluded that they are well-intentioned bunglers, Robin Hood-like anti-heroes, “black sheep”, or sadistic “Dirty Harrys” who enjoy a dust-up.