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27.04.2020 Europe

French police seize 140,000 face masks intended for black market

By RFI
© Reuters/Nacho Doce
LISTEN APR 27, 2020
© Reuters/Nacho Doce

French police have seized 140,000 face masks destined to be sold on the black market in a record haul since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Two men, aged 46 and 60, were arrested while they were unloading boxes in Saint-Denis, just north of Paris, a police source said on Sunday.

One of them said he was a business owner and had bought the masks, including 5,000 FFP2 protective masks, in the Netherlands for a total of 80,000 euros.

The masks were to be sold to construction companies for a large profit, according to police.

Black market
It is the largest seizure since the French government banned the resale of protective masks on 3 March in order to prioritise their distribution to health workers in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

In March, 32,500 masks from China were seized from a warehouse near Paris. A man was also arrested in possession of more than 23,000 face masks in Paris' 16th arrondissement.

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