Over two tonnes of cocaine wash up on French shore

French police officers patrol a beach in northwestern France, where more than two tonnes of cocaine packed in bags washed up. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS - Sealed bags containing a total of 2.3 tonnes of cocaine have washed up on the northern French coast in the past few days, a source with knowledge of the find said on Thursday.

The drug was found in two batches of watertight packages on the Normandy English Channel coast, one on Sunday and one on Wednesday, the source told AFP.

The total street value of the cocaine is estimated at €150 million (S$200 million).

On Sunday, several bags totalling 850 kilos were found on the Reville beach near the northern tip of Normandy, and six more bags turned up on Wednesday on the nearby beach of Vicq-sur-Mer.

Police are still uncertain where the cocaine came from – whether traffickers threw it overboard deliberately to avoid arrest, or whether it came loose from their boats in heavy weather, sources in the investigation told AFP.

The local maritime authorities said they were on “special watch” over the area using aircraft, with no more drugs spotted by Thursday afternoon.

The last time that a major cocaine shipment washed up on the French coast was in 2019, when a total of 1.6 tonnes was found strewn all along the French Atlantic coast.

On Wednesday, the government said that it had seized 27 tonnes of cocaine last year, a five-fold increase over the past 10 years, as Europe faces a surge in trafficking and use of the drug.

Seizures were up 5 per cent last year compared with 2021, according to interior ministry figures, with more than half of the narcotic coming from the West Indies and France’s poverty-stricken South American region of Guiana.

As the illegal trade has swelled, most cocaine now enters Europe through northern ports like Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg and France’s Le Havre. AFP

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