Smugglers have traditionally used high mountain routes to move their booty across borders. The Pyrénées have seen a wide range of contraband, from British RAF pilots during the Second World War to the more recent traffic in cigarettes.
Since price hikes in France, on the grounds of health, the trade in cigarettes between Andorra, Spain and France has sky rocketed but French customs have the route national from Andorra under close surveillance.
According to the Gendarmerie of Osséja in the Eastern Pyrénées four traffickers set out by car on New Years Eve. The men, originally from the same region of Algeria but now living in Limoges bought dozens of packets of cigarettes. To avoid the authorities two of the men decided to cross back into France with an empty car while the other two set out across the mountains on foot. The men became lost in the mountains and decided to cross the river Ariège which marks the border between France and the tiny tax heaven of Andorra using a snow bridge. Almost inevitably the bridge gave way under the weight of one of the men, his companion managed to pull him from the freezing river suffering from hypothermia. He decided to go for help. After a long walk the Gendarmerie were alerted at 14h00 the next day and the CRS finally found the man, dead from cold, at 19h00. Bad weather meant they could only get a helicopter to the scene of the drama on the 2nd of January. A few meters away lay the man’s rucksack. It contained 84 packs of 200 cigarettes. Certainly not worth risking your life for.
Source : [url=http://www.kairn.com]http://www.kairn.com[/url] from an AFP report