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CRIME

France stumped by mystery of missing family

The disappearance of a family of four nearly two weeks ago, leaving behind a home "frozen in time", has prompted a murder probe in a case that has stumped the nation.

France stumped by mystery of missing family
A photo of the family. Photo: Private
Bloodstains found in the house in a suburb of the western city of Nantes so far match the DNA of three of the four missing persons, prosecutor Pierre Sennes said late Monday.
  
The Troadec family — Pascal and Brigitte, both aged around 50, their son Sebastien, 21, and his sister Charlotte, 18 — have not been seen since February 16th.
   
Sennes said a probe has been opened into murder, abduction and illegal confinement in a case that has prompted lurid headlines.
  
Several reports recalled a murder in 2011 of five members of the same family, also in the Nantes area, noting that Sebastien attended the same high school as one of the victims.
  
The father, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, remains at large and is the suspect of an international arrest warrant.
  
Neighbours and a source close to the probe said Sebastien had had psychological problems and Pascal had suffered from depression in the past.
   
Sennes noted that Sebastien had been sentenced to carry out community service after being convicted in 2013, when he was a minor, for making death threats on his blog.
 
Home for the holidays
 
But classmates of Sebastien's interviewed by French media described a quiet, friendly youth, with one saying he was “always ready to help out”.
   
Both Sebastien and Charlotte had been at the family home during the just-ended school holidays.
   
Sennes said investigators had been unable to find Sebastien's car. The parents' car was parked outside the house.   The prosecutor said bloodstains were found throughout the two-storey house, including on Sebastien's cellphone and on Brigitte's watch, as well as efforts to wipe some of them away.
  
No toothbrushes or hairbrushes were found in the house, and the beds had been stripped, with some sheets drying on an indoor rack.
   
Food was going off in the refrigerator and there were dishes in the sink, Sennes said, adding that there had been no activity in any of the four family members' bank accounts, and their cellphones had not been activated since February 17.
   
Sebastien's cellphone was the last to be switched off, he said.
   
“It's as if the life of the house was frozen in time,” Sennes said.
 

CRIME

French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

France’s Economy Minister has praised the work of Bordeaux law officers, after they seized more than 2.4 tonnes of cannabis resin with an estimated street value in excess of €19 million.

French police seize 2.4 tonnes of cannabis near Bordeaux

Bruno Le Maire and Minister Delegate in charge of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal in a joint statement: “Once again, Customs distinguished itself with an exceptional seizure of cannabis, recalling its key role in the fight against drug trafficking. We congratulate the customs officers for their daily commitment to the protection of our fellow citizens.”

Two people were taken into custody after officers stopped a lorry from Spain on the A63, near the Saugnac-et-Muret toll area, just south of Bordeaux, on Monday.

According to Le Figaro, the drugs were hidden in side compartments of the lorry, and concealed by its stated load of wheat, and were discovered by a sniffer dog during the stop.

In total, 2,414.8kg of cannabis resin and 9.75kg of cannabis herb were intercepted by the Bordeaux brigade, with an estimated value of more than €19 million on the illicit market.

Since the end of July, 2022, Customs officials have seized nearly 73 tonnes of drugs, including 41.2 tonnes of cannabis.

The French drugs squad is now investigating to determine the point of origin of the drugs, as well as their destination and the crime network behind the smuggling attempt.

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