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Beaches in south west France closed after 900kg of cocaine washes ashore
People walk on the beach on November 11, 2019 in Capbreton, southwestern France, where cocaine packages have been found last days. - French prosecutors said on November 10, 2019 that they had opened an investigation after finding a "significant amount" of cocaine and other drugs on beaches all along the Atlantic coast since last month. (Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP)

Beaches in south west France closed after 900kg of cocaine washes ashore

French authorities have closed beaches in south west France as packages of cocaine and other drugs continue to wash up daily along the Atlantic coast, with nearly 900kg discovered since mid-October.
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.

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 125km 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.

“We’ve recovered 872 kilos,” Philippe Astruc, the prosecutor in the western city of Rennes, where officials are coordinating the searches, told AFP in a statement.

It was a sharp jump from just two days ago, when 763 kilos were reported.

“Intense surveillance has been set up by different services, notably the customs agency, all along the French coast,” Astruc’s office said Sunday.

“In this form it’s a very dangerous product that could cause an overdose,” it said.