Snorkeler Finds Cocaine Worth $1.5 Million Floating Off Florida Keys

A snorkeler found $1.5 million worth of cocaine while swimming in waters off the coast of the Florida Keys, law enforcement officers have revealed.

Around 70 pounds worth of the drug was found wrapped in tape and floating near to the island chain on Wednesday afternoon.

The unidentified snorkeler contacted the local police department who informed the U.S. Border Patrol.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office said in a statement a snorkeler near Craig Key at Mile Marker 72 "reported finding a floating bale" at 1.50 p.m.

Nearly 70 pounds of cocaine found in floating bale: https://t.co/RmY672b0bj pic.twitter.com/kOnDoBDrYX

— Florida Keys Sheriff (@mcsonews) March 4, 2021

"The Sheriff's Office notified the U.S. Border Patrol who responded and found the bale contained 25 bricks of cocaine weighing 68 pounds," the statement said.

"U.S. Border Patrol valued the drugs at more than $1.5 million."

A Twitter account belonging to the U.S. Border Patrol's Miami Sector's Chief Patrol Agent, Thomas G. Martin, described the snorkeler as a "Good Samaritan."

Martin said: "The individual noticed a large black bundle wrapped in tape & contacted local authorities. The bag contained 25 bricks of cocaine."

On Wednesday, a Good Samaritan discovered 68 lbs. of cocaine valued at over 1.5 million dollars floating in the #FloridaKeys. The individual noticed a large black bundle wrapped in tape & contacted local authorities. The bag contained 25 bricks of cocaine. #breakingnews #florida. pic.twitter.com/ih10AhQAlx

— Chief Patrol Agent Thomas G. Martin (@USBPChiefMIP) March 4, 2021

Neither agency commented on the possible source of the drugs, but bundles of narcotics are commonly found in those waters.

In December, a fisherman discovered almost 75 pounds of cocaine floating off Florida Keys. That bundle was located 15 miles south of Sugarloaf Key, Monroe County Sheriff's Office said at the time.

Over the summer, close to 150 pounds of marijuana were found floating close to the Keys or washed up on shore. And almost 80 pounds of cocaine was found in the same waters in two separate incidents.

The Miami Herald said the recent discoveries appeared to be part of a growing trend of unclaimed shipments in the area.

The newspaper reported that prices of illegal drugs have soared thanks to lower supplies in South Florida, climbing between 20 and 50 percent in street value.

Officials cite the impact of COVID-19 on a lack of transport options for traffickers between the U.S. and South America.

Fewer flights and cancelled cruises have left those seeking to transport narcotics to the lucrative North American market with dwindling routes.

Keith Weis, the acting special agent in charge of South Florida's Drug Enforcement Administration, told the paper: "The flow has been hampered by the pandemic. All the drug traffickers are having a hard time recruiting couriers."

This explains the rocketing prices of cocaine, for example. However it does not answer why marijuana, which is more often brought from states in the western U.S. where sales are legal, is also increasing in street value.

The pandemic may be having an impact there too, with fewer people on the streets leading to higher risks for dealers and a consequential increase in price, one South Florida weed dealer told the Herald.

bricks of cocaine
A floating bale found off the coast of the Florida Keys on Wednesday afternoon. The Sheriff’s Office notified the U.S. Border Patrol who responded and found the bale contained 25 bricks of cocaine weighing 68 pounds. USBPChiefMIP