This week, Hurricane Florence brought a deluge of catastrophic rainfall, flooding, and destruction to the East Coast. The storm also sent an unexpected delivery to the Florida shore, though. Police in St. Johns, Flagler, and Volusia counties, smack in the middle of the state's Atlantic coast, have been reporting that several large packages of marijuana have been washing ashore all week. The packages first began to surface in St. John's County last weekend, when an off-duty sheriff's deputy discovered a black package stuffed with illicit weed floating just offshore.
Chuck Mulligan, Commander at the St. Johns Sheriff’s Department, told the Washington Post that the packages “are probably all part of the same shipment. The question is, where did they go into the water?” Mulligan theorized that the bundles could have come from a boat that was capsized during bad weather, or could have been deliberately tossed overboard by smugglers attempting to avoid an arrest by the Coast Guard. The bundles may have drifted north from as far as Puerto Rico, and may also have been the result of a failed airborne drop. “There’s a plethora of possibilities,” Mulligan said.
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Last Thursday, a local woman made a 911 call to report that packages of weed were washing up on a Volusia County beach. “We’re at Jungle Hut [Park] and a huge bundle of drugs or something just washed up on the beach and there are people like fighting over it,” the caller told the 911 operator, according to the Post. “There’s like seven or eight people out here, and they’re all like huddling up against it, and my dad’s trying to take it so that you guys can have it all.”
Police showed up on the scene, and arrested 61-year-old Robert Kelley for placing an 11-pound brick of weed in his vehicle. Kelley claimed he was keeping it safe for law enforcement, but was arrested for possessing over 20 grams of weed — a felony charge in Florida that could land Kelley in jail for up to five years. To the north, Flagler County law enforcement said they have collected around 100 pounds of weed off the beach in the past week. Several beachgoers, including an unknown woman in a yellow bikini, managed to abscond with some of the illicit goods, however, and police are working to track them down.
In a recent statement, Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly said that Kelley's arrest was “another great example of ‘See Something, Say Something' ... thanks to the joint effort of our citizens' watchful eyes and good police work these narcotics are off the streets,” the Post reports. “To anyone thinking they can take advantage of marijuana washing up on shore I have a warning for you. Is it worth a trip to the Green Roof Inn charged with a felony just for some ‘free’ weed?”