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Beachcombers warned off searching for cocaine packages lost at sea

In scenes straight from The Young Offenders movie, dozens of beachcombers have turned up to search the shores for the drugs windfall

Gendarmes patrol the beach in Néville-sur-mer in north-western France after the drugs washed ashore. Photograph: Lou Benoist/AFP/Getty Images

Eamon DillonSunday World

NARCO tourists have been warned off French beaches after news broke of a two-ton cache of cocaine washing up on shores along the English Channel coast.

In scenes straight from The Young Offenders movie, dozens of beachcombers have turned up to search the sandy shores for the drugs windfall.

Residents along the Normandy coast have said there has been a sudden influx of strangers some in luxury cars and quad bikes, according to French media.

The local prosecutor Philippe Astruc issued a public warning about the risks of taking part in what he described as “narco-tourism”, France Bleu reported

“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.”

The cocaine is also a serious health risk because it was likely to be 80-90% pure, far stronger than what is usually sold by street dealers.

Several packages have already been found with the total street value of the cocaine estimated at €150m.

“The sea brings us many things, but this is obviously very unusual,” the mayor of Réville, Yves Asseline, told the Parisien newspaper.

“We’ve seen people arriving in 4x4s, brand new cars or with quad bikes on the beach, sometimes at dawn with head torches.”

Armed police were patrolling the beaches regularly with the help of a helicopter which was flying low over the water to spot any suspect packages in the sea.

Investigators don’t know where the cocaine came from, which could have been thrown over-board by traffickers fearing arrest or ended up in the water after a botched transfer at sea.

There has been a huge increase in cocaine trafficking to northern Europe from South America in recent years.

Most of the seized shipments have been shipped through Rotterdam and Antwerp but ports in Spain have also been used.

Spanish police recently cracked down on a Kinahan Cartel route from Panama to the ports of Algeciras and Barcelona

They were part of a plan to ship €350 million worth of cocaine to Europe in early 2020 through the Spanish ports where workers had been bribed to collect the drugs.

Five separate shipments were set in motion to bring the drugs from South America through Panama and to the port at Barcelona, leaked phone messages revealed.

Details of how the complex criminal ‘super-cartel’ operation worked were revealed in copies of encrypted phone chats between the gangsters.

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