Wildlife manager finds $1.2M in cocaine while surveying Florida sea turtle nests

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(NEXSTAR) – The U.S. Space Force joined the drug enforcement effort when roughly 66 pounds worth of cocaine washed up on a beach near the military branch’s Cape Canaveral, Florida base.

Angy Chambers, a wildlife manager at the 45th Space Wing, said she was out on a sea turtle nesting survey May 19 when she stumbled across a tightly-wrapped package covered in plastic and tape.

(Space Launch Delta 45)

Thinking it might be drugs, Chambers “immediately contacted the 45th Security Forces Squadron,” according to a news release.

“While I was waiting for them to arrive, I drove a little further and noticed another package, and then another. At that point, I called SFS back and suggested they bring their UTV, or Utility Terrain Vehicle, as I counted at least 18 packages,” Chambers said.

One of the responding officers, Joseph Parker, 45th SFS flight sergeant, said that all told 24 packages were found.

A Brevard County Sheriff’s Office narcotics agent tested the contents and confirmed that they contained cocaine, with an estimated total value of $1.2 million, according to Parker.

(Space Launch Delta 45)

The drugs have since been turned over to Homeland Security Investigations, according to the release.

“We take pride in protecting our base and the surrounding community,” said Parker. “There is also a higher level of job satisfaction knowing that these drugs will not make it into our community.”

It’s not the first time that large amounts of cocaine have washed up on a Florida beach.

In April of this year, a beachgoer stumbled across a number of similar-looking bundles in Palm Beach County that were found to contain $1.5 million worth of cocaine. Last summer the U.S. Border Patrol seized 78 pounds of narcotics found on a beach roughly 15 miles north of Miami Beach.

David Castro, the HSI special agent who received the cocaine found on Cape Canaveral, said that smugglers often transport bulk shipments of 25 bricks, or kilograms of the drugs, but the bale wrapping sometimes comes apart during transit and the bricks are delivered by ocean currents instead.

The origin of the cocaine seized by the Space Force is still under investigation.

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