A diplomatic car belonging to the Vatican has been stopped at a French checkpoint carrying four kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of £500,000.

Two Italian citizens were arrested in a grace and favour Jaguar which belonged to Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Melia.

The 91-year-old Argentinian officially the Vatican’s emeritus librarian is recovering from a heart attack.

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In a statement, the Holy See confirmed one of its vehicles was stopped by French customs officers with drugs on board but stressed that no staff were directly involved.

The Cardinal’s secretary gave the car to the two men so that they could service it, it is claimed.

They allegedly took advantage of car’s Vatican registration plates, driving to Spain, imagining that they would be able to pass all check points with diplomatic immunity.

But the pair were stopped at a toll station near Chambery in the French Alps, where police found the cocaine hidden in suitcases, along with 150g of cannabis.

They were arrested and will appear in front of a French magistrate on charges of drug trafficking.

Pope Francis has spoken out against the ‘scourge’ of drugs saying: ‘Drug use is an evil and against evil there can be no yield or compromise.’

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