February 21. 2024. 6:13

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France seizes ‘historic’ 157 tons of drugs in 2022

Over 150 tons of illegal drugs were seized by French authorities in 2022, marking a “historic” win against Home Minister Gérald Darmanin’s self-dubbed “mother of all fights”.

Cannabis seizing is at an all-time high at 128.6 tons, up 15% from 2021 and 47% from 2017, Darmanin told journalists on Wednesday. 27.7 tons’ worth of cocaine also landed in police and customs services nets, a 5% uptick from 2021.

On 19 February, the government announced the biggest single cocaine seizure in France’s history, with 1.9 tons found in the commercial Havre harbour.

Around 80% of all cocaine trafficking transits through commercial boats, Darmanin explained. 55% of the cocaine that reaches French shores comes from the Caribbean isles and French Guiana, a key transit zone for South American-made ‘nose candy’.

Finally, Home Office data shows 1.4 tons of heroin were seized (+8% compared to 2021), 273 kilograms of amphetamines and methamphetamines (+21%) and 1.5 million ecstasy and MDMA tablets.

Results speak of the government’s offensive anti-drug trafficking strategy. A new anti-drugs organisation, OFAST, was put together in 2020 in an effort to better coordinate police and customs services. “The DEA, French style”, according to Darmanin.

The fight continues, however. “With drug trafficking and consumption comes insecurity, delinquency, organised crime, dirty money, terrorism, prostitution and child pornography,” Darmanin said.

Public finance minister Gabriel Attal further warned of the “intensity of the drug threat to national security” and stands ready to fight off this “white tsunami”, referring to the ever-increasing French demand for cocaine.

Around 600,000 French people were irregular cocaine users in 2022, according to figures from the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Behaviours. 2.1 million tried it at least once.

Additionally, 18 million French people have smoked weed at least once in 2022; 1.3 million are regular users, and there are 850,000 daily smokers. France has the second largest number of cannabis smokers in the EU, relative to the entire population and particularly among 16-year-olds.

The government has made it clear it does not favour the legalisation of cannabis.

(Theo Bourgery-Gonse | EURACTIV.fr)