Forget seashells. The sand-and-shells crowd in Melbourne Beach just found something a lot more expensive -- and a lot more illegal -- than the discarded homes of mollusks: 50 pounds of cocaine.
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office is investigating where the shipment, worth somewhere north of $1 million, came from. One good bet: a sailboat that washed ashore near that very spot during Hurrican Irma.
Naturally, everybody’s trying to blame it on us. “You would think that South Florida would get the cocaine washing up -- not middle or Central Florida, beachgoer Richard Threlfall told an Orlando TV station after the cocaine was found Friday.
And perhaps that’s not totally crazy. Floating bales of marijuana were once so common in the waters off South Florida that they became known as “square grouper.” There’s even a bar by that name on Cudjoe Key.
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In more recent times, though, unusual gifts from the sea have been popping up all on beaches all around Florida. A single shipment of cocaine worth $7.5 million washed ashore up on a St. John’s County beach a couple of years ago, and then there was that capsized motor boat packed with bricks of marijuana that turned up on Flagler Beach north of Daytona.
There could be even more caches of seaborne dope in Daytona than we know about, because the smugglers there -- even the ones dumb enough to lose their cargo at sea -- are masters of disguise. Who would ever guess that that giant cigar found on Daytona Beach in March was actually a 10-pound stash of marijuana?