Florida Keys

Keys fisherman’s catch is worth $500,000. It came in 25 plastic-wrapped packages.

Bales of cocaine on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James, part of an offloading of almost six tons of cocaine earlier this year
Bales of cocaine on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James, part of an offloading of almost six tons of cocaine earlier this year

The most valuable thing a Keys fisherman pulled out of the water Saturday morning didn’t require a lure or bait. Nor did it put up much of a fight despite weighing 40 to 60 pounds, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said.

Then again, unlike cocaine users, cocaine itself tends to be pretty passive. Especially when tied up in a bale, which is what the sheriff’s office says a fisherman saw as he came back in to dock on East Carroll Street in Islamorada on Saturday morning.

Under the dock, the fisherman saw something floating. With a gaff and a net, he got the bale into his boat.

“The outside plastic was ripped and he cut a corner, which revealed a white powder inside,” the Keys sheriff’s spokesman Adam Linhardt said in a statement.

Inside were 25 plastic-wrapped packages. The U.S. Coast Guard and Border Patrol took control of the suspected cocaine. Neither the outside nor the inside packaging had a “To” or “From” address.

DEA Miami office intelligence chief Justin Miller told the Sun Sentinel in 2017 that pure cocaine goes for $26,000 to $28,000 per kilogram. Using that price range and the weight range given, the bale was worth $473,000 to $761,600 in wholesale prices.

US Coast Guard unloads twelve tons of cocaine and one ton of marijuana from the stern of the USCG Cutter Legare at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, April 24, 2018.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.


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