Fishermen Reel In $1 Million In Cocaine

By Kelly Burch 06/04/19

“We trolled past it. Every time we passed it we caught a fish,” one of the fishermen said.

fishermen reeling in cocaine

A pair of South Carolina fishermen had the catch of a lifetime on Sunday when they reeled in a bundle of cocaine worth about $1 million. 

“We trolled past it. Every time we passed it we caught a fish,” one of the men told WCSC. In fact, a school of mahi-mahi, a popular catch with the fishermen, were swimming around the bundle.

Before they packed up their rods and reels for the day, the duo decided to see what was in the package. They managed to snag the floating debris and pull it toward their boat. 

When they saw the drugs inside, they contacted the Coast Guard. The agency alerted the North Charleston Police Department, which had officers meet the fishermen back at their marina. The police officers estimated that the bundle contained 30 to 50 kilos of cocaine, estimated to be worth $750,000 to $1 million, according to Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Phillip VanderWeit. 

VanderWeit said that the boat was about 70 miles southeast of Charleston, an area where such a significant drug find is not common. 

“It definitely doesn’t happen off the Charleston coast every day,” he said. “It’s a bit more common further south, whether in the Caribbean or the south Pacific.”

Authorities will investigate the origins of the drugs. 

In January, a fisherman in the Florida Keys also found a bale of cocaine, although that catch only had an estimated worth of $500,000, according to authorities. In that case, the drugs were floating beneath the dock when the man returned from a day of fishing. 

In December 2017, the Coast Guard rescued a sea turtle that had become ensnared in more than 1,800 pounds of cocaine, worth about $53 million. 

"After a period of lengthy questioning, it was determined the turtle did not have any useful information. We released him on his own recognizance after he agreed not to return to these waters again. #turtlesmuggler,” the agency tweeted at the time

They then followed up with a more serious tweet about the prevalence of cocaine coming into the United States. 

"In all seriousness, we love our sea creatures and do everything we can to help them when we see them in distressed situations. Additionally, during this patrol nearly seven tons of illicit narcotics with a street value over $135 million was confiscated."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.