French police close beaches & set up patrols as cocaine packages keep washing ashore
Beaches in south west France have been closed as blocks of high-quality cocaine continue to wash ashore prompting a major police operation to retrieve the powdery packages before the opportunistic public snaps them up.
The packages, some of which are labeled ‘diamante’ or ‘brilliante’, have been washing up on French beaches since the end of October and tests have shown they contain 80-90 percent pure cocaine.
This has naturally prompted intense interest from the public, forcing police to close beaches and set up patrols to watch for anyone eager to get their hands on the drugs worth millions in estimated street value.
Police have been stopping local walkers for searches, checking cars in beach parking lots and even using a helicopter patrol on the 125km stretch between Cap Ferret and Soulac-sur-Mer, AFP reported.
A 17-year-old was caught with 5kg of cocaine at a beach near Bordeaux on Monday. The enterprising youth, French media reported, had traveled all the way from Toulouse, three hours away.
Police sources cited by Le Parisien said new packages are showing up every hour — and so far, more than 872 kilos (1,972 pounds) of the white stuff has been found, a prosecutor in the city of Rennes told AFP.
Officials have also warned the public that the product could be very dangerous due to its high purity and said that it would be easy to overdose.
It’s not clear yet why the drugs are washing up on the beaches, but authorities are assuming for now that they were en route from South America and very likely dropped from a vessel during a storm.
Whatever the origins, police said they are expecting the packages to continue showing up “for a while.”
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