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Authorities Ecstatic over Champagne Drug Bust

Authorities Ecstatic over Champagne Drug Bust
© Wine-Searcher
French customs officers find more than wine in tourist's bottles.

Customs officers in France found more than happiness in two Champagne bottles last week: they found pure ecstasy.

Two officers stopped a car on the A31 highway near Dijon in Burgundy for a regular vehicle check and noticed two bottles of Champagne on the floor at the passenger's feet. On closer inspection, the liquid inside did not look like sparkling wine and was seized for analysis.

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A more thorough check of the vehicle unearthed more than a kilo (2.2lbs) of amphetamines hidden under the spare wheel.

The drugs, with a street value of around 90,000 euros ($123,000), were discovered in a car with Austrian registration plates, driven by two Italians. 

Analysis, done in a customs laboratory in Strasbourg, confirmed on Monday that the bottles were filled with a liquid form of MDMA, or ecstasy. According to Denis Moulinier, the head of the Burgundy customs office, it is the first time that ecstasy in liquid form has been seized in France.

Customs have confirmed that one of the two car passengers has been freed without charge, but the other has been detained, pending an appearance before the criminal court at Dijon on July 29.

In 2013 French customs officers seized 251kg of amphetamines as well as 15kg of unprocessed MDMA and 360,556 tabs of ecstasy.

It isn't the first time criminals have attempted to shift drugs in wine bottles. Last year, three men appeared in court in Australia after being arrested for importing five consignments of wine from France. The bottles were full of liquid amphetamine.

Also last year, Bolivian special forces smashed a cocaine ring that was trafficking its wares in wine bottles throughout South America and beyond.

And while trafficking drugs in Champagne bottles might be a new experience, Champagne itself has been popular with criminals. In Britain last year, six members of a drug gang were jailed for a combined 72 years after living a – literally – Champagne lifestyle, which included a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, designer clothes, Rolex watches and an enviable collection of Dom Pérignon and Louis Roederer Cristal Champagnes.

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