9000 apple trees looted in Lavaur: the case gains momentum

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Several thousand apple grafts were uprooted during the night of 13-14 July on the Fontorbe estate in Lavaur, Tarn. A mysterious collective, “the thistle”, hitherto unknown, claims this action which is the subject of a judicial inquiry for “degradation in meeting”.

Who is behind the looting of a plot of 3 hectares of apple trees on the Fontorbe estate, west of the Tarn? A strange message of complaint was sent last night, by e-mail, to several local newsrooms, including that of The Midi Expedition.

An anonymous message, simply signed “the thistle”, and which recalls “the great destructive action” carried out on the Fontorbe state property during the night between 13 and 14 July. An all-out attack on capitalism and agribusiness followed, accused of poisoning “our families, our future.” The text ends in a threatening tone: “You have created a people in a state of self-defense. And this people will defend itself, and will save its children from your poisons”.

This is the first time that a “group” calling itself “the thistle” has publicly claimed militant action. The judicial sources consulted by La Dépêche are unanimous: such a small group is totally unknown in the department.

Well educated activists

A “false nose” to confuse the leads and hide the true sponsors of the rampage? This is the opinion of some security sources. “It could be an association that is a little ashamed of what it has done but still wants the action to be vindicated”, said one of our interlocutor.

An investigation into “degradations in meetings” was opened by the Castres prosecutor’s office which, last Saturday, estimated that the current elements “did not allow us to establish” whether environmental activists were the authors of the degradations.

On the side of the garden and the investigators, however, a consensus is emerging. The perpetrators of the action were extremely well informed. Activists knew exactly which trees to target, which suggests they are locally well integrated, at least well connected. For the mayor of LR of Lavaur, Bernard Carayon, it is a “commando of ten or twenty people, led by people who know perfectly the location of this plot”.

According to our information, the question of converting this organic plot has been agitating local alternative circles for several weeks, where the possibility of militant action was being discussed.

Three hectares looted

The Domaine de Fontorbe belongs to the Les Vergers du Sud group, one of the leading fruit producers in the country. It was Orchard employees who discovered the rampage last Friday. During the night, several thousand grafts were extracted from more than 9,000 rootstocks.

Lucas Crosnier, the manager of the orchard, spoke of “irreparable losses with consequent serious moral and financial damage”. He has received the support of professionals in the sector, such as the national association Pommes Poires.

Several political leaders also reacted at the national level. Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau denounced an “obscurantism” and a “police of agricultural thought and choices” on Twitter on Saturday. “This is where verbal excesses and misinformation lead to arguments that don’t support the caricature. We will not give up.”

Obscurantism and thought police and agricultural choices. This is where verbal excesses and misinformation lead to arguments that do not support the caricature. We will not give anything away. https://t.co/1QNsMtCO2Q

— Marc Fesneau (@MFesneau) July 15, 2023

The president of the Republicans Eric Ciotti and the president of the RN group in the National Assembly, Marine Le Pen, also bounced on the case via Twitter, denouncing the first the “green terrorists” and the second the “eco-terrorist groups”.

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