Origin of cocaine packages washed ashore in Fort Pierce remains a mystery

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — No more packages of high-grade cocaine have washed in from the ocean along the Treasure Coast and investigators still can't say where those found Tuesday came from.

But law enforcement officers and beach lifeguards remain on the lookout.

Investigators do know where the 22 packages already in custody are destined: destruction.

They will be destroyed to keep the drug from reaching the streets and selling for a total of up to $2.2 million, according to police estimates.

The value of each package, estimated at $32,000 at the shoreline, increases in value sixfold by the time it is sold on the streets as crack cocaine or diluted powder.

Officials speculate the packages were either lost or hurriedly tossed from a boat or airplane by drug dealers seeking to avoid detection.

On Tuesday morning, two people walking along the beach at Fort Pierce's Kimberly Bergalis Park called 911 to report suspicious packages on the shore. Police confiscated 58 pounds of packages, all of which appeared to have "not been there long," said Police Sgt. Dennis McWilliams. Water only got into two packages. All were encased in four or five layers of plastic and tape.

"They were wrapped with much care," he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard and other law enforcement officials said they haven't seen suspicious activity in the area.

"We have no idea" of the story behind the packages found in Fort Pierce, McWilliams said.

On Saturday, the Coast Guard found a bale of cocaine floating near Key West.

On Sept. 26, 25 cocaine packages washed up near Port Canaveral in Brevard County.

That is "all part of business as usual (for drug dealers)" importing cocaine into the United States, said Coast Guard spokesman Russ Tippets.

On Monday, the Coast Guard announced the seizure of 363 pounds of cocaine from a 20-foot boat off Puerto Rico. A month before, the Coast Guard confiscated 2,808 pounds of cocaine from fishing vessels in the Caribbean Sea.

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