France warns ‘drug tourists’ after coke washes ashore
RENNES (FRANCE) – French authorities on Friday warned of “drug tourism” on North Channel beaches after news of more than two tonnes of cocaine washing ashore attracted dozens of beachcombers, some equipped with quads were.
Locals in villages along the Normandy coast have described an influx of unidentified people in luxury cars and SUVs combing the sands this week.
Local prosecutor Philippe Astruc on Friday publicly warned of the risks of participating in what he called “drug tourism”.
“Taking possession of one of these bundles and transporting it is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison,” he told reporters.
In addition, the cocaine poses a serious health risk because it’s probably 80 to 90 percent pure, far stronger than anything typically sold by street vendors, he added.
“At this time we don’t know the purity of this substance,” he added, but if it were the usual strength of imported cocaine, it could be “lethal” if used.
He stressed that a young man had died in 2019 after ingesting cocaine that had washed up along the west coast of France in the previous major incident of this nature.
– 4×4, new cars, quads –
So far, multiple batches of waterproof packaging have been found in villages including Neville-sur-Mer, Omonville-la-Rogue and Reville, with the total street value of the cocaine estimated at 150 million euros ($159 million).
“The sea brings us many things, but obviously this is very unusual,” Reville mayor Yves Asseline told the Paris newspaper. “We’ve seen people arriving at the beach in 4x4s, brand new cars or quads, sometimes at dawn with headlamps.”
Armed police regularly patrolled the beaches with the help of a helicopter flying low over the water to spot suspicious packages in the sea.
Investigators still weren’t sure where the cocaine came from – whether traffickers had deliberately dumped it overboard to avoid arrest or if it had become detached from their boats in heavy weather, sources close to the probe told AFP .
On Wednesday, the government said French police seized 27 tonnes of cocaine last year, a fivefold increase on levels 10 years ago, as Europe faces a surge in trafficking and use of the drug.
According to the Interior Ministry, seizures rose five percent last year compared to 2021, with more than half of the narcotics being transported via the West Indies and the poverty-stricken South American region of Guiana in France.
As the illicit trade has increased, most cocaine now enters Europe via northern ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg and France’s Le Havre.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch