Fishermen reel in a big catch: Suspected cocaine that may be worth up to $1 million
SOUTH CAROLINA — Two recreational deep-sea fishermen made quite the catch this week during a trip off the South Carolina coast.
They were about 70 miles southeast of Charleston on Sunday afternoon when they pulled in a package wrapped in black plastic floating in the water, CNN affiliate WCSC reported.
Police later estimated it was about 30 to 50 kilos of cocaine, the TV station said.
That amount could carry a street value of $750,000 to $1 million, US Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Phillip VanderWeit told WCSC.
“It definitely doesn’t happen off the Charleston coast every day,” VanderWeit said to the station. “It’s a bit more common (farther) south, whether in the Caribbean or the South Pacific.”
The fishermen told WCSC they had seen a school of mahi-mahi jumping in the water near a pile of debris.
“Every time we passed it, we caught a fish,” one of the fishermen was quoted as saying. WCSC did not identify the fishermen by name.
After about three hours, they decided to see what the debris was and pulled it aboard, according to the station.
After opening the package, they contacted the Coast Guard, which notified the North Charleston Police Department.
Officers met the fishermen at an area marina and stood by until the Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Administration arrived. The DEA took possession of the narcotics and is leading the investigation.
The DEA Field Division in Atlanta, which covers the Charleston area, told CNN the suspected cocaine is in the process of being tested.
It is being processed as potential evidence in the event it can be linked to an individual or organization, the division said.