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French customs seizes €20 million in cannabis hash

Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP | Cannabis, cash and ammunition seized by police in the southern French city of Marseille on October 16, 2015

French customs seized 7.1 tonnes of marijuana hashish worth about €20 million from vehicles parked in the chic 16th arrondissement (district) of Paris on Sunday in one of the biggest drug busts in France of the past two years.

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A source close to the investigation told BFMTV that the overnight seizure followed several weeks of inquiry by the National Directorate of Customs Intelligence and Investigation (DNRED).

No one has been arrested in connection with the case and the investigation is ongoing.

Officers found the bricks of cannabis hashish, which were wrapped in plastic and burlap, stashed in the boot of three abandoned commercial vehicles parked along a boulevard in the 16th arrondissement in southwest Paris.

The drugs have an estimated street value of around €20 million with a kilogram of hashish fetching between €2,500 and €3,000, according to police sources.

The seizure is the biggest ever made in central Paris, said a source close to the investigation.

Demand at 300 tonnes per year

Since the start of summer, officials have seized several large quantities of drugs. On July 26, nearly 6 tonnes of cannabis hashish destined for the Marseille region was discovered in a villa in Vitrolles (Bouches-du-Rhône).

But the country’s biggest seizure in recent years dates back to April 26, 2013, when customs officials discovered more than 7.5 tonnes of cannabis on trucks transporting fruit and vegetables in Hendaye (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) close to the Spanish border. In February of that year nearly 7 tonnes of hash was also found in a truck travelling from Spain near the Boulou toll on the A9 motorway.

In total nearly 200 tonnes of narcotics were seized in 2014 by customs officers, including 157.3 tonnes of cannabis – an increase of 84 percent over the previous year and a record high, according to official figures.

In France, customs is responsible for more than 80 percent of total drug seizures.

Cannabis is the most abused drug in Europe and its consumption is on the increase – including in France, where authorities estimate demand at 300 tonnes per year.

Possession or the use of cannabis accounts for more than 60 percent of all drug offenses in Europe.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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