French police warns cocaine fortune hunters off beaches

Rennes, France, Nov 12 (AFP/APP): French authorities have closed beaches in southwest France as packages of cocaine and other drugs continue to wash up daily along the Atlantic coast, with nearly 900 kilogrammes discovered since mid-October, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Officials say the cocaine is extremely pure at some 83 percent, warning people who find the packages not to touch them but to warn the police.

That has not stopped some from trying to get their hands on the drugs, whose street value would be in the millions of euros, prompting police to close beaches and start carrying out patrols.

On Monday, a 17-year-old was caught with five kilos of cocaine at Lacanau, a closed-off surfing beach near the southwestern city of Bordeaux — he had come from Toulouse, a three-hour drive away.

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A half-dozen other beaches in the area have been closed as well, with police stopping walkers for searches and also checking cars leaving nearby parking lots.

A police helicopter was also being used along the 125-kilometre stretch between Cap Ferret and Soulac-sur-Mer, which includes the Lacanau beach.

A woman who gave her name as Martine failed to notice the closure signs at the Porge beach on Monday, when officers told her and a friend to leave.

“When we turned around we saw a package next to the water,” she said, saying they alerted the police, who estimated it weighed some four kilos before sealing it in a plastic bag.

“It would have been tempting to take it, but we’re honest!” she told AFP.

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