$7.5M in cocaine washes onto St. Johns beaches

Published On: May 06 2013 12:19:13 PM EDT
Updated On: May 06 2013 09:29:50 PM EDT

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office collected 55 pounds of the cocaine. The drugs washed ashore up along the beaches of Crescent Beach and as far north as Ponte Vedra Beach.

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. -

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office says they collected a total of 25 kilograms of packaged cocaine on Friday that had washed up on beaches from Ponte Vedra south to Crescent Beach.

Deputies showed off the cocaine Monday, saying the street value of the drugs would equal $7.5 million.  Drug agents say the cocaine was intended for somewhere along the coast of Florida, but it ended up in the ocean.

"There is a drug dealer of some level who is very unhappy," said SJCSO Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan. "He's lost really a great deal of value in the cocaine."

A member of a company that rescues sea turtles found the first package. She said she came across what she described as a trash-like bag on Crescent Beach early Friday. When she opened it, she saw a bunch of little bags inside.  She brought it to the Crescent Beach substation of the Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office confirmed the bags contained cocaine.

St. Johns County beaches, which were closed anyway Friday due to nor'easter conditions, were kept closed as deputies collected the bundles and placed them into evidence.

Was it not for the low pressure system offshore that kicked up the waves, the cocaine may never have made it to the beach.  Investigators say it doesn't appear the cocaine was in the water for a long time, leading them to believe, it may have been close to reaching it's destination.

"We've certainly seen kilos come to shore in past years, an these kilos were in the water for some time, some covered in barnacles and deteriorated,
 Mulligan said. "But in this particular case, it was relatively uncut and didn't appear to be in water uncut."

The Sheriff's Office said the drugs were likely from South American and their investigation will try to trace it back to its origin.

If anyone was caught and convicted of transporting the drugs, they would face a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence.

The Sheriff's Office says anyone who sees anything suspicious along the beaches should not touch it, but should call 904-824-8304 to report it.

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