Mystery 117kg of cannabis washes up on Famagusta shores

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Cyprus police have picked up 42kg of cannabis washed up on Protaras beaches, while Turkish Cypriot authorities said they collected another 75kg further down the coast in the occupied north.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, Drug Squad Deputy Chief Stelios Sergides said the force has been trying to solve the mystery since December 21, when packages first started appearing on the Famagusta beaches.

“We have informed neighbouring countries and asked them to inform us whether they are facing similar incidents on their beaches,” Sergides said.

He said that Interpol and Europol had been informed before Christmas, but neither organisation has reported back.

Sergides believes the most likely scenario behind the puzzle is that the drugs were dumped at sea by a ship passing through Cyprus waters.

It is unclear whether authorities suspect the incidents may be due to a drop-off that went wrong.

Some 5kg of cannabis were initially found on December 21, then 29kg the next day and 3kg on December 30.

A further 2kg were detected on December 31, while officers seized another 2kg that washed up on January 2.

According to Turkish Cypriot police, some 75 kg of cannabis were collected from Famagusta beaches (photo) by officers between December 18 and January 1.

When the 75kg found on beaches in the north are added, a total of 117kg of cannabis have been found on Famagusta beaches.

Sergides said: “In 2022, there has been an increase in the number of drugs seized in Cyprus compared with the past five years, and the number of cannabis users appears to be rising.”

In total, 340kg of cannabis, 38kg of cocaine, 3.5kg and 156 pills of ecstasy, and 4.5kg of methamphetamine were confiscated in Cyprus in 2022, he said.

Another 1.5kg of synthetic substances and smaller quantities of other substances have also been seized.

“Large quantities of drugs came to our island mainly through Larnaca airport, postal parcels and Limassol port.”

The deputy head of the drug squad said that the largest quantities came from third countries via Central Europe.

“It is important that we are successful in seizing the drugs before they reach the market.

“People arrested in drug trafficking cases seem to be involved in other forms of crime”.