French policeman arrested on suspicion of stealing 50kg of seized cocaine

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 6:53am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 August, 2014, 8:09pm

A French narcotics police officer was arrested yesterday on suspicion of stealing more than 50kg of seized cocaine from the Paris police headquarters in a case that has become a major embarrassment for the force.

The 34-year-old officer was believed to have made off with the illegal drugs - which have a street value of up to €2 million (HK$21 million) - after security cameras spotted a person resembling him entering the headquarters with two bags, according to a statement from police and prosecutors.

The officer, who works with the Paris drug squad, was arrested near Perpignan close to the Spanish border, where he was on holiday. He was being questioned by officers in the region before being transferred to Paris.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has called the allegations "extremely serious", and said the man had been suspended pending an investigation.

"If the investigation confirms his involvement, and as soon as I have any news on the conclusions of the inquiry, I will not hesitate in taking all the necessary measures," he said, without elaborating.

The missing cocaine has become a major embarrassment, with French media describing its disappearance as a real-life heist worthy of a crime movie.

Police sources said several searches were taking place, both in Perpignan and at the officer's Paris home.

Colleagues expressed surprise at the arrest, describing the suspect as "unassuming" and "trustworthy".

The drug cache was seized in a Paris raid in early July that led to several arrests. On Thursday, police learned the drugs had gone missing from a secure room in the headquarters.

The haul had been kept in a high-security area, with security procedures requiring anyone entering the room to sign in and be accompanied by another officer authorised to have a key.


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