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French police swoop nets stolen grands crus worth millions

An operation by a French police and gendarme strike force dubbed ‘Magnum’ has recovered over €5 million worth of stolen fine wines and resulted in the arrests of over 20 people.

Gendarmes during the operation. Photo credit: Gendarmerie Nouvelle-Aquitaine

French law enforcement swooped on locations in the Gironde, Dordogne and Loire early last week, recovering some 900 bottles of stolen wine and arresting 25 suspects in what one French news station called the “seizure of the century”.

Police recovered cases of some of France’s most prestigious wines, including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Cheval Blanc, Petrus and Yquem among others, after what has been a year-long inquiry.

Despite taking place across several locations in the country, the suspects are all thought to belong to one highly organised gang of thieves.

Patrick Léonard, Bordeaux’s interregional chief of police, said: “These are professionals who know how to foil security measures; from cameras to alarms or motion detectors.”

Among those detained is the gang’s supposed leader, a 55-year-old man of Asian heritage based in Bordeaux, who previously worked in the on-trade and is reportedly known to the police.

The stolen goods were taken from numerous restaurants, négociants warehouses and shops in France including the Georges Blanc restaurant in Vonnas and other merchants across Aquitaine and Paris.

It is not clear if this gang was also responsible for the spectacular heist at luxury Paris merchant Caves de Taillevent in October this year.

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