French police ordered 11 of 12 suspects to remain in custody for cocaine smuggling from Mexico
Cocaine air traffic between Mexico and Paris with phantom passengers? French justice ordered 11 of 12 suspects, including an airport customs official, to be detained on remand.
Eleven were remanded in custody, including the customs official, while the twelfth was ordered to be placed under judicial supervision, a judicial source told AFP.
The suspects are accused of importing narcotics and laundering in organized gangs, drug trafficking, criminal association, corruption and arms-related crimes, he said.
Faced with the “historic” seizure of 156.7 tons of drugs, including 27.7 tons of cocaine, in 2022, France has made the fight against drug trafficking the “mother of all battles”.
Although 75.4% arrives by sea, 17.1% of the cocaine arrives by plane, as in this latest case, revealed by the newspaper Le Parisien, which focuses on an alleged trafficking between Mexico and the south of Paris.
The customs official at the Roissy airport, north of Paris, would have received 45,000 euros (48,000 dollars) for “closing his eyes” and per suitcase coming from Mexico, according to a source close to the case.
Each suitcase contained between 40 and 60 kilos of cocaine and the frequency was one or two per week, he said.
According to Le Parisien, the drug traffickers are said to have set up a system of ghost passengers, who checked in before the flight but never boarded the plane, unlike the drug suitcases.
The customs officer would have even been paraded on the Champs Elysées on July 14, 2022, on the occasion of the French national holiday, for having participated in a major cocaine seizure, according to the source close to the case.
70 kilos of cocaine seized
After “two years of work“, investigators arrested thirteen people on Wednesday in the troubled neighborhood of “Grande-Borne”, located about 20 kilometers south of Paris, according to this source.
Three brothers known in the neighborhood were in control of the network and were said to have enriched themselves with this traffic, even owning assets in Africa and Dubai, he underlined.
The network could obtain “up to 400,000 euros [427,000 dollars] in weekly profits“, this source specified. The police seized “70 kilos of cocaine and weapons“.
Among the thirteen arrested were the customs official — a 35 year-old ex-military officer — and an employee of the SNCF train company.
The Minister of Public Accounts, Gabriel Attal, called on Friday for “the greatest firmness” after learning of the arrest two days earlier of the customs officer.
The consumption of cocaine produced in Latin America is soaring in Europe, currently the preferred destination for drug traffickers to the detriment of the United States.
As evidence of this increase, numerous hermetically sealed bales of cocaine appeared between the end of February and the beginning of March on the beaches of northwest France.
The authorities, who are investigating the origin of the shipment, collected more than 2 tons of the white powder.