France captures Australian in record drug haul

17th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

LILLE, France, Oct 17, 2006 (AFP) - French customs said Tuesday they had made their largest opium haul in 20 years, seized from an Australian trafficker as he prepared to cross the Channel Tunnel to Britain.

LILLE, France, Oct 17, 2006 (AFP) - French customs said Tuesday they had made their largest opium haul in 20 years, seized from an Australian trafficker as he prepared to cross the Channel Tunnel to Britain.

The 35.65 kilogrammes of the drug, with an estimated street value of half a million euros, were found on board the man's car in Coquelles, at the Channel Tunnel terminal near Calais, on October 8.

The driver, a 28-year-old Australian who lives in Britain, was intercepted as he prepared to cross over to England on his way back from Germany via France.

Customs officials said the man, a fitness teacher from the southern England town of Portsmouth, had made half a dozen round trips in the past year, allegedly ferrying drugs back to Britain each time.

The opium haul is the second largest ever made in France, where 50 kilogrammes were found in a hanger near Versailles in 1984.

French customs seized 1.8 kilogrammes of opium for the whole of last year, and 5.7 kilos over the past four years, they said in a statement. European customs seized 155 kilogrammes for the entire year 2004.

Derived from the opium poppy, the drug can be transformed into morphine or heroin, or smoked directly in the form of pellets.

Yvan Chazalviel, French customs director for the Channel Tunnel, said the drugs were probably intended for "clandestine opium parlours in Britain", among the Iranian and Pakistani communities where it is smoked traditionally.

He said it was highly unusual to find such a large amount of raw opium so far from producing regions in south Asia — mainly Afghanistan — since most traffickers export the drug in the form of higher-value heroin.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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