Like a distant and wry gift from Hurricane Florence, it started washing up on a Hammock beach in norther Flagler County Wednesday and Thursday, the marooned loot totaling more than 100 pounds: bundles and bundles of it, pot tightly packed in standard kilo-bricks and catching the attention of several people, some of them mistaking the floating packages for an early Christmas present.
They rushed in, starry-eyed. A caller to 911 told dispatchers that “several” people were grabbing and attempting to open the packages. She’d yell out to them not to. They ignored her, even when she told them that she was on the phone with 911.
“An unknown white female wearing a yellow bikini and multiple unknown males cut open the bundle of narcotics and started taking individual ‘bricks’ of the narcotics,” a Flagler County Sheriff’s report stated. The drugs washed up in the area of 2450 North Ocean Shore Blvd. Later, a Flagler Beach police officer collected a clear plastic bag containing suspected drugs in the area of 1700 North Ocean Shore.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived at the first location, they made contact with the caller and another individual, Caleb Ayers, an off-duty cop from Georgia. The deputies saw what they described as “four circular, tightly wrapped, bundles of suspected narcotics and a large bundle of 12 brick style suspected narcotics in their possession. I further observed a single additional separate brick style bundle in their possession.”
Another man was on the beach: Robert Kelley, who had not approached deputies. The 911 caller pointed him out “as having taken a ‘brick’ of the narcotics from the bundle on the beach and leaving to the parking lot,” the report states. Kelley, 61, a resident of Westbrook lane in palm Coast, allegedly bundled the brick in a brown towel before leaving the scene.
A deputy asked Kelley if he’d taken any pot. Kelley told him he had, but that he was holding it for law enforcement. “It should be noted that Deputy Gaddie had to initiate the interaction with Robert before Robert stated that he indeed had a ‘brick’ of narcotics,” the report states. Kelley said he didn;t know if cops would be on their way and at first claimed that he hadn’t pried a brick from a bundle, but then “recanted,” according to the report. When he opened his trunk, the deputy located a brick wrapped in plastic containing approximately 11 pounds of pot, wrapped in a brown beach towel.
If Kelley had been caught with less than 20 grams, he’d have faced a first-degree misdemeanor. Because of the larger amount, he was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony and booked at the Flagler County jail. He posted bail on $2,500 bond within 90 minutes and was released.
A sheriff’s deputy contacted the Coast Guard and was put in contact with customs and homeland security officials, who, according to an incident report, said “they were investigating numerous suspected narcotic bundles washing ashore in the area St. Augustine to New Smyrna Beach.” Customs officials said they’d be sending a team to Flagler to inspect and collect the bundles.
“We don’t know exactly where it’s coming from,” Sheriff Rick Staly said this morning on WNZF’s Free For All Fridays as he spoke with David Ayres, the host. “So we would suspect that it is either a smuggler’s boat that went down because of the storm or it could have been a boat that the occupants or the smugglers got nervous, and started dumping it, maybe they thought they were being followed or something like that. So we don’t know exactly where it’s coming from, we’ve turned it over to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Generally these carets that smuggle this stuff in, generally from the Caribbean, they package them in certain ways so it could be connected to some smuggling investigation the DEA or customs is working.”
Staly stressed that the haul was not “legal marijuana,” and it shouldn’t be confused with medical marijuana. He spoke of those trying to open or take bricks and referred to Thursday’s lone arrest. “We’re looking for a woman that stole another one that we have a citizen that gave us a photo of,” Staly said. “So for those that may be finding these bricks washing up on the beaches, and they’ve been washing up in St. John’s, Flagler and Volusia County, if you take one of them, you will go to jail. So our suggestion is, if you see that, call us, let us properly handle it and dispose of it.”
Staly conceded that the bricks have yielded a few good puns by commenters on the agency’s Facebook page, but said “it is definitely not” finders keepers. “Marijuana is still illegal in the state of Florida and technically the United States under federal law, though there’s been some states, obviously, that have done other things.” Federal legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives, for example, may freely smoke pot: recreational marijuana is legal in the District of Columbia.
Nine states have legalized recreational marijuana and an additional 22 states have legalized medical marijuana, including Florida. But in all those states, the marijuana is tightly controlled and regulated, so that even if it were to wash up on an Oregonian shore, it would not be legal for an individual to grab and go: Oregonians–to take one example–are allowed to carry up to one ounce in public and to own up to 8 ounces at home, or grow up to four plants at home, absent a license to cultivate marijuana commercially. Beyond that, they run into legal trouble.
Staly took to Facebook at one point to address misconceptions about marijuana laws, as commenters were becoming critical of the agency for the seizure or the arrest. “The marijuana that washed on shore is contraband and it was concealed from law enforcement, that is the equivalent of ‘stealing’ it,” the sheriff wrote. “Contraband is not legal to possess.”
Some commenters were not convinced.
This is so wrong of the sheriff’s office, I am so disgusted, and the lady who called the cops on the innocent people just grabbing some pot, she should go to jail! What kind of a miserable person must you be to call the cops on your fellow citizens like that? It is a degradation of our community to see such snitches right in public. And for the sheriffs office to place these charges on innocent civilians jus who did nothing more than score some free pot. Shame on you!!!
Why would you do that? I would never take such a risk with a felony amount of drugs. Even if no one sees you and you get to keep it, what are you going to do with it? I know I wouldn’t want to go through the risk and trouble of trying to sell it. I wouldn’t even know who to sell it to, so what’s the point? If it was cash, on the other hand, I would honestly try to snatch it up if no one else was around. Who could honestly say they would do the “right thing” and contact the authorities if they happened to come across $100,000 in cash while taking a walk on the beach? I’m not messing with drugs, but lost drug money is a different story. Ultimately, I don’t really care where it came from so much as where it ends up.
Legalize it already.I will Gladly grow my own
Tom Davies says
people should mind their own business, some busy body do gooder, had nothing better to do
You seriously called the police !
I guess someone else wants to keep the pot!!!
Should be finder keeper!!!!
Bernie 2020 says
The police should have just taken the weed back, written them a warning and brought it back to the station. If they took the entire bundle then you have another story. Personally I would never touch anything like this if I saw it, you never know who owns it .
seaweed :) ROFL
If the first 8 responders want to be able to use narcotics that are legal, I suggest you move or visit CA, WA or CO. It is ILLEGAL HERE IN FL. If you don’t like that fact then move or wait for the next election cycle. Until the law is changed, the authorities have to enforce the law and if 50% plus 1 don’t vote for legalizing it then too bad. MOVE!!
PS: I’m voting no
ann m says
Live free or die –
S. Peterson says
I can’t believe that after all these years they consider pot a narcotic? What is alcohol? That’s killed so many people as well as tobacco! Nonsensical if you ask me. Waster of time and money to prosecute. Get with the times. If it were legal there’d be no damn deficit.
The comments to this article illustrate the dangers of legalizing a substance that people will, inevitably, abuse. People are obviously already abusing it. The people in this article were not trying to obtain marijuana for any appropriate medicinal purpose. They were already breaking the law and displaying addict behavior.
@ RP- Thanks for the laugh! Similar to my See-Food diet!
Just looking to supplement his retirement with all the new palm coast tax’s and all.
Tomorrow recreational pot will be legal and then what? It is so stupid to arrest people for the pot when everyone does it as it is and it will soon be legal for all. Just a way of the courts and cops arresting people to make them look good and get all the money in legal fees and court costs. It’s all a money game and there is no justice anymore. If you can’t afford an attorney a public defender does nothing to defend you other than urge you to take a plea so he can get that case behind them all and move on to the next one. We would all cringe if we knew just how many lawyers and judges drink, smoke dope and do other illegal drugs!!!!!
When did Marijuana become a narcotic? Marijuana is not a narcotic. Never has been never will be. Top notch reporting.
Buffalo 1 says
I wish I’d get lucky to find such a
Treasure. Everybody worry about
Yourselves. Not me or your neighbor
What dummies to take the drugs…could be laced with god knows what. Yes something, say something.
This and that says
Bunch of freaking narcs. Don’t want drugs? Don’t pick them up. Why freaking narc on someone?
Willy Boy says
Aren’t you required to pick-up litter?
To the women calling the police, geez, lighten up, or maybe light up. To Sheriff Staly, your time would be better served in other areas, not governing a drug legal in nine states, and will be legal here soon.
Next there going to indict the atlantic Ocean on “king pen charges”what a pitiful waste of time money and resources. We live in the #1 suicide county in america probably due to the tremendous amount of meth and pain pills that literally flood flagler county and they wasting time and resources on this?what a joke.im starting to think maybe it’s law enforcement agencies selling all the hard drugs.it seems the poison pushers don’t matter yet harmless sea weed gets there attention 🤔
Pitiful use of police resources. Election time coming up.remeber if we could get the fcso to put a tenth of the effort they waste on a harmless paint to fight the meth and pill problem in this county they might actually save a life instead of ruining one.pitiful
Trailer Bob says
What a disturbing story. An older man finds weed washing up on shore an tries to take a little for probably his own use. Some evil woman rats him out? And why is the weed being classified as a Narcotic? It is not a narcotic, it IS a weed, vegetation, ganja. Everytime a judge or a cop is sipping on an alcoholic drink, others have the good sense to take car of their health by smoking weed. NO ONE has ever died from pot, no liver disease, no murders, no drunken driving, no fighting…just a little mellow buzz with some creativity thrown in. Makes on question the intelligence of man when pot is a crime, but not alcohol. Stop ruining decent lives and legalize it. Written by a 63 year old man who has used pot for pleasure on off time since the age of 13. No criminal record and degrees from there universities…yup, ganja made me stupid and violent…NOT!
A BS charge IMO (not law) on the man who simple took SOMETHING that washed up on the beach. As for the one calling 911 fine OK do so but why turn in the guy ?????
Born and Raised Here says
I remember back in the’70’s a boat washed ashore in the Hammock with a large amount of marijuana. The area was very secluded.and not developeed like today The abandoned boat remain there for months until it was reported and the Sheriff Dept. came. When the Sheriff got there, all the marijuana was gone. I wonder where it all went ? lol.
Mar'e Jane says
What a freaking joke……In the 1980’s, cocaine was washing up on the shores of Daytona Beach and NO ONE gave a crap about it. When are you IDIOTS going to realize, that drugs have been around for 65,000 years. You ONLY give a sh*t about it when you can fill another cell at the Green Roof Inn and collect more money from the tax payer to buy more fast cars and SWAT equipment for your over zealous rifleneck trigger pulling gruntheads………Recreational pot will be LEGAL in the entire USA in 2 years.
Juan Figeroa says
they could’ve collected the weed, and issue warnings, But that’s Police for you. specially Florida, The Hungry State!!!!!!!
Quit taking the pot, the police hate the competition, everytime they get a large haul, it somehow disappears from their evidence storage. I don’t smoke it and I don’t judge people who do. But come on, they now prescribe it for pain and other conditions instead of harmful expensive prescriptions and its safer and better than the pharmaceuticals that make the drug companies rich.
No finders keepers, unless your the police.
Anonymous toker says
My first thought when I heard it washed up “God, I wish I was down there that day!” Then my friend told me that a man was arrested and a woman is wanted for grabbing some.
How is that stealing? Seriously?!
I would’ve grabbed a bundle and ran. FCSO was so wrong for charging this poor man. Give me break. I wouldn’t think it was illegal and yes, Finders Keepers, if it washes up on shore.
It’s only POT!
That nosey, busy body who was narcing people out, someone should’ve taken her picture. She probably grabbed 2 bricks!
Flagler gal says
Can’t believe how many comments berated the citizen who contacted the sheriff. No, this is not finder keeper. How do you know the stuff wasn’t laced with a toxic substance? I have been told that the area is inundated with pot heads, now I know it’s true. Explains the reason we have so much unemployment, too stoned to get up in the morning.