A weather system has been churning up Northeast Florida’s waters for the last few days–a coastal flood warning is in effect today–and turning up the sort of finds that periodically beach themselves here: bricks of drugs. Friday evening, 15 kilos, or 33 pounds, of cocaine found their way to the beach at the north end of the county, in the Matanzas Shores area. The duffel bag and its contents were almost identical to a find in Cocoa Beach in September.
An anonymous caller contacted the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office to report finding a duffel bag filled with cellophane-wrapped bricks that had the unmistakable look of drugs. The man had been walking his dog on the beach that morning. It’s not clear why there was a difference of half a day between the time of the find and the time deputies were dispatched.
The gym bag was dark and covered in barnacles and seaweed, and the 15 bricks within were covered in sand and seashells, suggesting that the bag had been in the ocean a long time.
“We got some goodness here,” a deputy is heard saying in his body camera, as he was examining the find, before testing it. Initially some of the bricks looked like heroin as a deputy laid them out on the hood of his patrol car. The deputy opened one of the kilo-sized bricks and field-tested the white substance. It tested positive for cocaine. Another deputy field-tested it for fentanyl. It tested negative. Two of the 15 bricks were “significantly lighter and not dense,” a sheriff’s incident report notes. Half of the packages had some evidence of water damage.
Deputies contacted surrounding police agencies to inform them of the find and carried out a search of the beach but found no further evidence of drugs washing up. Deputies took the packages to the sheriff’s evidence room. “The caller wanted to remain anonymous as the caller was in fear of reprisal from the potential owner, and has been purposely omitted from this report,” the report states.
“I’m thankful that the person who located the bag did the right thing and called us. These are dangerous narcotics and could be deadly in the wrong hands,” Sheriff Rick Staly said.
The value of cocaine in the Orlando area is estimated to be between $20,000 and $30,000 a kilo, so Friday’s find in Flagler would be valued in the $300,000 to $450,000 range.
Some 10 weeks ago, around the time of the Cocoa Beach find, more than a dozen bricks of cocaine washed up on a beach in Melbourne in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. Some 900 kilos of pure cocaine has been washing up on France’s Atlantic coast since mid-October. Last May, 21 pounds of marijuana and 85 pounds of cocaine washed up on an Alabama beach.
The last time a big stash of drugs washed up on Flagler’s beaches was 14 months ago when some 100 pounds of pot in kilo-bricks ended up on beaches in the Hammock. Law enforcement strongly recommends against turning such finds into treasure hunts: In that case, a man was arrested after after claiming he’d been holding on to the pot for law enforcement’s benefit. The man, Robert Kelley, 62, was initially charged with felony possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana. He ended up pleading guilty to possession of less than 20 grams last February, was sentenced to a year’s probation and had his driver’s license revoked for a year. Two days before the cocaine washed up on shore, Kelley’s probation was terminated early, as he had complied with all terms.
Watch the Flagler Sheriff’s body camera footage: