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Capsized Speedboat, High on Marijuana Bricks, Washes up on Flagler Shore

| September 24, 2012

Sonia Kupinzsky and her sister were strolling by the marijuana boat this morning, a little too late for the bricks that washed up ashore. (© FlaglerLive)

A 25-foot motorized boat that had capsized days or weeks ago–long enough for algae to build up on its stern–washed up on the shore of Beverly Beach near the Flagler By the Sea campsite Sunday. It was empty of people, but nevertheless bearing gifts: the boat shed many large bricks of marijuana, what one beachside resident described as “square grouper.”

A Florida Fish and Wildlife officer said the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office had picked up some 150 pounds of pot. Such speedboats have become a means of choice for smugglers of drugs or human traffickers in recent years.

Cops were at the scene Sunday and early Monday morning, though by 9:30 this morning the beach was again almost deserted. The boat was beached upside down in the shallows. Some boat debris had been dragged up the sands past the high-tide mark, so it wouldn’t wash back down to sea.  But all searches for additional marijuana were fruitless.

Hauling off portions of the 150-pound stash. Click on the image for larger view. (c FlaglerLive)

Ron Lane, who lives on the beach nearby, said the boat had appeared Sunday. “It floated out there within sight all morning,” Lane said, got stuck on one sandbar, then washed closer in. “One guy was out there yesterday, he kept swimming up and pulling up bags of marijuana,” Lane said, describing the swimmer as a civilian. Lane said it appeared that the marijuana bricks had been in a compartment. The doors to that compartment may have broken off, freeing the stash.

There were no identifiable official markings on the boat, other than those made by the Coast Guard on Sept. 2, 2012, then the Coast Guard presumably found the boat at sea. A red sign that states: “OK U.S. COAST GUARD,” with a date of “2 Sep 2012,” was sealed to the bow of the boat. The letters OK were spray-painted on either side of the boat. Two curious marks, which may be bullet impacts, appear on the port or left side of the bow.

On Sunday afternoon and evening, according to witnesses, nine sheriff’s deputies, most of them in uniform, stood watching the boat, unable to do much about it. Three deputies then arrived in scuba gear, but they, too, were largely powerless to move the boat or safely look beneath it. They were then joined by the Coast Guard, so that at one point the beach swarmed with law enforcement and other officials.

The Coast Guard is in the habit of setting some drug boats on fire, depending on where they are seized, and letting them sink at sea once it interdicts them and removes what smugglers and drugs may be on board. It does not go to great expense to tow drug boats. Last weekend, the Coast Guard in the Caribbean interdicted more than $2 million worth of pot that had been stashed aboard a speedboat very similar in look and size to the one that washed up at Beverly Beach. That speedboat had been on a drug run between Haiti and Cuba, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard was criticized by environmentalists for setting the boat on fire. It then issued the following statement, which sheds some light on why the Coast Guard identified and tagged the speedboat that washed up on Flagler’s shore, but did not do anything further with it: “Though it is a good idea to simply salvage a vessel and profit from its sale, there are other factors that may make that idea less attainable or worthwhile. For instance, the distance from shore means the trip with the aforementioned boat in tow would take about a week.  The cost to the U.S. taxpayer of having this law enforcement and search and rescue platform unavailable while on a scheduled patrol would not be a good use of time or money. In addition to taking our Coast Guard cutter and crew away from their duties, it would actually cost more to tow the boat that distance and sell it than to dispose of it — which keeps it from being used for future illegal purposes or being a hazard to navigation. There are other situations that would warrant towing a vessel back.”

With a less porous border with Mexico, using speedboats has become a transportation means of choice from drug smugglers and human traffickers, according to the office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The southern California coast has been the scene of several such boat seizures or boats washing up on shore. The Coast Guard in southern California has seized 50 tons of marijuana in the past year.

The pot. (c FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

(c FlaglerLive)

13 Responses for “Capsized Speedboat, High on Marijuana Bricks, Washes up on Flagler Shore”

  1. Lonewolf says:

    Can we still go down and pick up a brick or two?

  2. Shane says:

    We actually started dealing with this boat on Saturday night around 8:30. I find it funny that the Coast Guard did not pass on the same information to us Saturday night that was given to us Sunday morning when we got more calls on it. Saturday night we had many resources from Flagler County Fire Rescue, Palm Coast Fire Rescue and Flagler Beach Fire Rescue all tied up with this “possible” vessel in distress call. After it was dark, someone from a condo in the Hammock called and said they saw it and thought they saw someone on the boat. The Coast Guard never said anything about them already checking the vessel out and tagging it with a self contained GPS unit until Sunday morning when we received calls on it again. Sunday more equipment and man-hours were wasted to go out and find that they had already dealt with it and weren’t going to do anything more with the boat. Now it will be up to the county to figure a way out to get it off the beach and dispose of it.
    Bet they wish they would of checked it better now so they could of confiscated the drugs on board instead of civilians finding it…

  3. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    Maybe the Red Light cameras will find out who the booty belongs to. If not the “Garage Sale Patrol” can give it a go. This is where time and energy and resources needs to be spent. Think about how many boats with drugs have already made it through. But if they intercept it before it hits the shores, whups there goes the war on drugs and overtime and special task force and and bath salt committees and whatever ever else they try to convince the public we need them to do for us.

  4. Reinhold Schlieper says:

    I don’t think you should offer ads to arrest records. These are privately collected data-bases that neither claim accuracy nor will edit out people who are incorrectly listed; in other words, they do not practice responsible journalism, I’d think.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Reinhold, the ads you see in the body of the article are automated through Google. We do not control the content beyond Google’s assurance that we won’t see anything overtly offensive, though Google’s assurances only go so far: we regularly see ads for fanatics like Ann Coulter and the NRA’s penis-envy fetishism.

  5. Clint says:

    Chocolate Brownie mix was sold out of Publix this afternoon. I think Town Center is showing a movie tonight….” Up in Smoke” starring Cheech & Chong.

  6. Nasty says:

    That boat has been floating around for weeks and those marijuana bundles have been soaked in sea water for weeks. Those bundles are all rotted and smell HORRIBLE (trust me I smelt them). All you stoners who think they are gunna score some free weed….have at it!!! If you can stomach the smell of rotting weed then you deserve it!!

  7. Geezer says:

    Life’s a beach folks.

  8. Dadgum says:

    Actually, the bricks were enroute to the Flagler County Inmate Facility for brownie cookies tonight. Visitors welcome.

  9. mellissa says:

    Clint youre very correct, also bealls sold a large amount of beaver hats , i hate to sayit but i think the darn croatians are back in town again, and they came by boat this time lmao…

  10. Deep South says:

    Years ago a landing craft with a boat load of pot washed ashore up in the Hammock. It sat up on the beach for months until the authority heard about it. Those were the good ole days.

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