Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Conor Sheils, Agency: Central European News
A teenager is facing 10 years in jail after he made off with 5 kilogrammes of cocaine that he found after hearing about it washing up on a French beach.
The incident took place in the Gironde department in south-western France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, near the city of Bordeaux, where numerous packets of drugs have been washing up since Saturday.
The packets of cocaine have been washing more generally up for weeks on the Atlantic beaches of France and according to the latest figures, the authorities have so far secured 900 kilogrammes (1,984 lbs) of the drug.
The 17-year-old, who has not been named, was arrested and detained in the commune of Lacanau by the seaside, not far from the city of Bordeaux and the seaside town of Arcachon and the famous Dune du Pila, which is Europe’s largest sand dune.
He allegedly had five packets of 1 kilogramme of cocaine each on him at the time of his arrest at around 5:30pm on Monday afternoon.
According to local media, police officers watching the beach in Lacanau allegedly saw him picking up the packets of cocaine.
The total, some 5 kilogrammes (11 lbs) of cocaine, has a minimum market value in the United Kingdom of roughly 270,000 USD (210,000 GBP), based on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s figures from 2016.
This is keeping in mind that according to the French authorities, the cocaine that has been washing up on their beaches is 87 percent pure and could therefore be ‘cut’ a number of times to inflate this figure. Police added that the purity of the drug made it a health risk to anyone who came into contact with it.
The teenager, said to be from Toulouse, had reportedly been taking part in an “Easter egg”-style hunt for the drugs with his friends, as many in the region have been hearing about the highly unusual quantities of the drugs washing up on the beaches.
A police spokesperson was quoted as saying: “He will no doubt try to put it all down to curiosity and swear that he intended to hand it all over to the authorities, but one thing is for sure: he failed to follow instructions not to touch the product and to call the police.”
The local towns of Lacanau, Naujac-sur-Mer, Le Cap-Ferret, Le Porge, Hourtin, Arcachon and Carcans have all issued municipal decrees banning the public from accessing their beaches.
Reports state the young man faces 10 years behind bars for the possession and transport of a narcotic substance.
Prosecutor Philippe Astruc said the cocaine “probably” comes from South America, and French prosecutors are reportedly working with agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as well as European anti-drug cops to find out how the drugs ended up on the beach.
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