Inquiry into 100kg drug discovery on French west coast

The drugs "have a high degree of purity, making them particularly dangerous", the prosecutor said

An inquiry has been opened after more than 700 kilograms of “high purity” drugs - mainly cocaine - were discovered on the Atlantic coast of France in the past three weeks.

The discoveries began on October 18, when one kilogram of drugs was found in Saint-Jean-de-Monts (Vendée, Pays de la Loire).

This was followed by 36 kilograms on Friday November 8, on beaches in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine, between Capbreton to Vieux-Boucau (Landes); 73 kilograms between Lège-Cap Ferret and Lacanau (Gironde), on Saturday November 9, and many more packages since.

Now, the prosecution service in Rennes (Brittany) has announced it is coordinating an inquiry into the discoveries.

All of the packages were wrapped in plastic, and had stickers on them reading either “Brillante” or “Diamante”, which could be in reference to their quality, according to investigator statements reported by newspaper Le Figaro.

Initial analysis has identified a purity level of 83% without any extra “cutting” with other products.

In a statement, prosecutor Philippe Astruc said: “Suspect packages were found from the Loire-Atlantique to the Landes...it is cocaine that probably comes from South America, its place of production.

“It has a high degree of purity, making it particularly dangerous. It must not be consumed in this form, as the risk of overdose is extremely high.”

The Rennes cross-regional legal team la Juridiction Interrégionale Spécialisée (JIRS) will coordinate the investigation, including research by prosecutors from along the length of the Atlantic coast, including from Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique, Pays de la Loire), Bordeaux and Dax (Gironde and Landes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine).

The statement continued: “Due to the specificity of this issue, the inquiry has been passed on to researchers in the maritime gendarmerie, to the Pays de la Loire gendarmerie, as well as the [illegal drug trafficking squad] l’Office Central pour la Répression du Trafic Illicite de Stupéfiants, all working together.

The statement said: “The hypothesis that we are focusing on is that this is the result of damage or a storm that would have led to the loss of this product [from a transporter ship]. We have procedures that implicate simple ships, or cargo ships with containers that transport these kinds of products. Unfortunately, traffickers do not lack imagination in this area.”

French officers are also working with international contacts, including in Florida, USA, where a cargo of drugs has also been discovered.

The prosecutor also reminded the public that “any discovery must be immediately made known to the police or gendarmerie services without any intervention”.

Anyone found to be transporting drugs of this kind risks up to 10 years in prison.

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