People in luxury cars and 4x4s have been flooding beachside French villages after a shell-hunting couple found £50,000,000 worth of cocaine.
Proving that romance isn’t dead, the lovebirds found 850 kilos of the Class A drug along the shores of Réville, a commune in Normandy, on February 26.
It was stored in a pair of large construction bags that had washed ashore, kept afloat along the English Channel by canisters and life jackets.
Six more packages of cocaine weighing around 1.5 tonnes appeared on the beachside of the nearby Vicq-sur-Me commune on Wednesday.
The batches have an estimated total worth of £133,000,000, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
But now officials are warning against ‘narco-tourism’ after residents of Normandy villages have described an influx of unfamiliar people.
Réville mayor Yves Asseline told the Le Parisien newspaper yesterday: ‘The sea brings us many things but this is obviously very unusual.
‘We’ve seen people arriving in 4x4s, brand new cars or with quad bikes on the beach, sometimes at dawn with head torches.’
‘When the gendarmes, before leaving the beach in a secure convoy, opened the van for me in which they had stored the dozens of bags containing this cocaine, I said to myself: “But what world do we live in?”‘ he added.
Local prosecutor Philippe Astruc issued a public warning to beachcombers yesterday.
‘The act of taking possession of one of these bundles and transporting it is a crime that carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison,’ he told reporters.
Astruc added that the imported cocaine is likely 80-90% pure – way stronger than the kind typically sold by street dealers – which could be ‘fatal’ if consumed.
‘At the present time, we don’t know the purity of this substance,’ he said.
A young man died after taking cocaine from a 1.6-tonne shipment that appeared along the French Atlantic coast in 2019, the prosecutor warned.
Along Néville-sur-mer in Vicq-sur-Mer on Thursday, a group of masked people dressed in black tracksuits were spotted combing the beach.
Armed military police officers, known as gendarmes, have been patrolling the beach while helicopters look down from below.
Investigators are stumped as to where the cocaine came from.
It could have been thrown overboard by traffickers to avoid arrest or it fell overboard due to rocky weather, sources told AFP.
On Wednesday, the government said that it had seized 27 tonnes of cocaine last year, a five-fold increase over the past decade.
In 2021, seizures of the narcotic increased by 5%, according to interior ministry figures.
The bulk of cocaine enters Europe through northern ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg and France’s Le Havre.
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