Coke-Packed Plane Plows Into Lake, Leaving Lots of Baggage

By Kirwan Gray 04/27/11

Police in New Mexico are forced to shut down a four-mile stretch of Lake Heron, after kilos of cocaine start bobbing up on the beach.

Santa Fe's Beachside Bonanza.

A rural setting, a giant reservoir, and a monstorous storm accompanied by terrifying 40-mile per hour winds. In the midst of it all, witnesses saw a tiny airplane struggling to maintain its balance. But after a brief battle, the tiny jet plummeted into New Mexico's 100-foot deep Lake Heron, right near the Colorado-New Mexico border.  Since then, say New Mexico police, no survivors have been found. But much of the plane's baggage apparently survived unscathed. For most of the past week, New Mexico State Police have been frantically picking up the one-kilo packages of cocaine that have been bobbing up on the bucolic beach, located 100 miles north of Santa Fe.

A crack team of police divers first combed the lake in search of the small fixed-wing aircraft last Monday. But while their mission was unsuccessful, a large cadre of New Mexico State Police was left to cope with the unexpected cornucopia of coke that suddenly started washing up on the shores of Heron Lake State Park. The drugs, worth millions on the open market, were all well-sealed in plastic baggies. So to derail drug-hungry naturists, the police shut down a four-mile stetch of the Lake as soon as the first baggies of cocaine bubbled to the surface.

Of course, finding traces of cocaine in a reservoir of water is not so unusual these days. In 2008, scientists in Madrid discovered that 92% of the drinking water treated at a Spanish water-treatment plant contained small amounts of cocaine byproducts. And so much cocaine was used in London in 2005 that scientists there were able to pick up traces of it in the River Thames. Still, it’s nice to think that perhaps a portion of the Great American Outdoors might somehow be spared the introduction of illegal drugs into every kind of water supply. But for the moment, I guess we can count out New Mexico.

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