Beach
© Global Look Press / Bildverlag Bahnmüller
Beach and coast at Plage des Chênes Lièges, Département Landes, Atlantic Coast, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, France, Europe
Dozens of cocaine-containing packets labelled 'diamante' have washed ashore on beaches along France's Atlantic coastline, and more are likely to come, with police now warning residents against helping themselves.

Small one-pound packages wrapped in several layers of black plastic and cellophane have become a regular sight on the French Atlantic coast since late October. The 'bricks' sport 'diamante' or 'brilliante' labels, but while their contents are precious, they are not filled with gemstones - rather, with 80-90 percent pure cocaine, as several tests have shown.

The first package was discovered in Saint-Jean-de-Monts on October 18. Since then, things have escalated, with Le Parisien reporting Saturday, citing police sources, that new packages with the drug are now being discovered almost every hour.

In total, nearly 150kg (330 pounds) worth millions of dollars have been recovered on the beaches so far, including 36kg found scattered on a stretch of 10km in just one day, a find with an estimated street value of €3mn.

A massive law enforcement effort has been underway to locate and retrieve the 'white gold' before it falls into the wrong, or even all-too-willing, hands.

The French authorities have warned beach-goers against attempting to beat police to the task.

"Be careful not to believe in television series," an investigator, cited in the report, said. If a layperson finds and then attempts to sell the drug on the street they will have to deal with "real thugs," he noted, while consuming cocaine of such high quality is bound to take a heavy toll.

The origin of the cocaine still remains a mystery. Investigators are looking into several versions, including cargo being dropped from a freighter or a sailboat from South America or the West Indies getting caught up in a storm and sinking with its cargo.

In early September, similar bricks with the same inscription washed up on a beach in Florida as Hurricane Dorian swept past the state.