French authorities have found a ton of cocaine on their beaches on the Atlantic coast since mid-October when drug packages began to arrive mysteriously from the sea, judicial sources said Tuesday.
"We have recovered 1,010 kilos," said Philippe Astruc, prosecutor for the city of Rennes (northwest), where authorities coordinate searches on Tuesday. An earlier balance accounted for 872 kg. and the previous one was 763 kg. by the gradual arrival of the merchandise.
The packages, pushed by the tide, began to appear on several beaches of the French Atlantic coast in mid-October, in a territory of several hundred kilometers.
"It is the same cargo that reaches the French coast , " said Astruc on Tuesday, adding that the entire Atlantic coast is affected by the phenomenon.
Is it a transport accident or a voluntary unloading of the merchandise? The task is arduous for researchers seeking to elucidate where these packages come from .
"Several hypotheses are possible, but we privilege at the moment a discharge after a breakdown or a storm," said Philippe Astruc.
The police have closed several beaches in front of the influx of residents waiting to seize a package.
On Monday, a 17-year-old was arrested with five kilos of cocaine in Lacanau , a beach closed to the public where several packages of drugs were found last week.
The Rennes prosecutor also warned about the "risk" posed by the cocaine found, which is 83% pure.
These are "bales of cocaine 'base' that" run aground on the Atlantic coast from Landes [southwest] to the mouth of the [river] Loire "(northwest), Astruc said.
According to the prosecutor, the phenomenon is such that "surveillance was reinforced in the different services, especially in customs along the French coast."
"At the mercy of the tides"
A source close to the case described to the AFP bales that arrived "in a scattered way" for a month along the entire Atlantic coast, from the Loire-Atlantique, to the French Basque Country, passing through Vandea or Gironde.
They arrive "at the mercy of the tides," said this source.
In Gironde, a department in the southwest, these packages of cocaine were discovered on Thursday at the beaches of La Teste and Arcachon . The prosecution of Bordeaux spoke of "significant amounts" without giving further details.
The gendarmerie launched "a surveillance message to individuals who discover such bales on the coast" and urged them to immediately call the emergency number without touching these products.
"The content and the continent can be dangerous to health," the gendarmes said. These packages may present a risk "to the touch" or cause "emanations".
Five towns in Gironde established an order to ban access to the beaches, the prosecution confirmed.
In addition, transporting this type of product is a crime that can lead to 10 years in prison, Rennes prosecutor said.
Rennes Interregional Specialized Jurisdiction took over the case, with "police cooperation at European level" as well as with "the US authorities [for Drug Control, DEA]," said the prosecution.
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