Cocaine washing ashore in Martin County part of uptick in drug smuggling

Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 6:46 PM EDT
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The Martin County Sheriff’s Office said they’ve seen a slight increase in drugs coming across our borders, from both our maritime borders and the southern border.

Just this past week, the sheriff's office said two bricks of cocaine washed up on north Jupiter Island, each weighing a kilogram.

Beachgoers found one Monday, and the other on Wednesday.

Sheriff Snyder said it's from drug smugglers, likely coming from the Bahamas, possibly dumped to avoid arrest.

"The other possibility is that the boat sunk out there and the load washed away," Snyder said.

It's not uncommon for the Sheriff to see, and it's not just washing ashore in Martin County, but across the Treasure Coast.

Lately, he's seen more than normal, yet Snyder said the biggest concern is the effect on his community.

"What we are seeing, which is much more disturbing, is an increase in the availability of meth and fentanyl, heroin, we attribute that directly to our open border," Snyder said.

So far this year, Snyder said 10 people in the county died from drug overdoses, and that does not include the many more that overdosed and were brought back by Narcan.

"That’s what’s really so, so disturbing," Snyder said.

Snyder said cocaine primarily comes from maritime borders and is largely produced in South America.

He said heroin, methamphetamines and fentanyl, on the other hand, are coming straight from the southern Border, as Mexico is the world's second-largest producer of opiates.

"We're sandwiched between two pretty big drug flows," Snyder said.

Lifeguards on Jupiter Island told WPTV they often see drugs like that washing ashore, but for beachgoers, the news was much more shocking.

"Yeah, that’s wild," said Ally Kochersperger. She and Rhys Shaper were taking shelter from the rain as they looked at pictures of the large bricks of cocaine.

"You expect coconuts, but not cocaine," Shaper said.

"It's a big brick," said Jeff Davis, who was on vacation with his family. "Wow. How does that just wash up on the beach?”

Snyder said he's now calling for a stricter crackdown on drug smugglers coming across, to hopefully clear the streets of deadly drugs, adding the approach needs to be two-fold: that of prevention, and that of enforcement.

"From a law enforcement standpoint, so much of the border has been politicized. You're for the border, you're not for the border, that's not the question," Snyder said. "The question is, can we secure our border with law enforcement assets and staunch the flow of methamphetamine and heroin-like drugs from coming into our community?"

Davis, hoping for clear skies again, said he hoped that approach would clear the waters, too.

"Yeah, cocaine-free would be nice," Davis said.

The drugs were handed over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Authorities said if you see drugs washing ashore, do not touch them. Instead, report it to the police.

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