French-U.S. Effort Nets France's Largest Cocaine Seizure
Oct. 06, 1987
PARIS (AP) _ French police, working with U.S. drug officials, arrested five Americans, seized 64 kilos of cocaine (just under 141 pounds) and halted a bid to implant a French connection in a vast drug network, authorities said Tuesday.
They refused to identify those arrested, saying only that the five represented ''four chieftans and a transporter'' in the network.
It was the largest seizure of cocaine in France, with a street value of nearly $107 million, said Bernard Gravet, head of the Central Office for the Repression of Illicit Drug Traffic, France's drug squad.
He said the Americans, all of Latin American origin, were part of a network working out of Colombia and Peru, already distributing drugs in the United States.
''They're not small time. These traffickers have a flotilla of private planes, even a Boeing 707,'' he told a news conference. ''With the American market saturated, they're looking for new outlets in Europe.''
Gravet said three were picked up Sept. 29 at a Paris hotel when 37 kilos of cocaine, the second of two deliveries, was confiscated.
The first seizure was made Sept. 6 at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport following a three-month investigation by the French and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The cocaine, covered with Colombian coffee powder, was being transported in a false-bottom suitcase, officials said. Two people were arrested then.
Authorities were first tipped to the network in Miami, where Americans seized six kilos of cocaine.
Jean Hoguet, national customs inspection director, said French officials ''worked hand in hand'' with the Americans. ''It worked beautifully. There were even mixed teams,'' he said.
Despite the size of the haul, the confiscation will only have a ''dissuasive effect'' on the network, Gravet said.