British driver given €1m fine for transporting drugs through France

‘I was asked to take it by two guys who told me it was CBD,’ he told police

Split image of a Renault Master  and the french border police or douanes
The court did not consider his testimony to have been given in good faith and sentenced him for drug smuggling
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A British driver has been fined one million euros and a suspended jail sentence for transporting half a tonne of cannabis through France.

The 38-year-old, identified publicly as Matthew D., was stopped at Grande-Synthe near Calais (Nord), after crossing the border from Belgium on February 8, 2024.

The border police, or douanes, searched his Renault Master van and found 567kg of cannabis in boxes on wooden pallets.

The driver told them it was CBD, or Cannabidiol, which is a legal form of cannabis that does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that produces a high.

“I was looking for work,” he told police. “I met two guys near Mons in Belgium who asked me to transport some CBD to the carpark of a service station in Calais. I said ok and they loaded my van.”

The court estimated the market value of the cannabis at €992,000. The border police also found a GPS tracker hidden with it (thought to be to track the valuable cargo). 

Local newspaper Nord Littoral reports he had no valid identity papers with him at the time of the arrest. 

Read more: Police ID checks in France and foreign documents explained 

Matthew D., who is reportedly from the traveller community, lives in the UK and did not return to France for the hearing on June 12.

The court did not consider his testimony to have been given in good faith. Matthew D. was found guilty of drug smuggling and given a three-month suspended sentence and a fine of €992,000 - corresponding to the value of the drugs he tried to smuggle.