100 pounds of marijuana washes ashore in Flagler Beach, sheriff says

Beachgoers find bundles, bricks in sand

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Once again, bundles and bricks of marijuana have washed ashore in Central Florida, this time in Flagler Beach.

The Flagler Beach Police Department said that about 10:55 a.m. Wednesday, citizens reported finding a large package that had washed ashore in the area of 6th North Street and North Oceanshore Boulevard. When officers opened the package, they found it contained six smaller 12-inch by 12-inch packages stuffed with marijuana.

Hours later, at about 1:45 p.m., the Flagler County Sheriff's Office said a beachgoer in the area of North Ocean Shore Boulevard found four circular bundles and 13 brick-style packages of narcotics and called authorities.

It's unclear if the two incidents were related, but the U.S. Coast Guard was contacted to investigate both cases. Officials from the Coast Guard told deputies that similar packages have washed ashore from St. Augustine to New Smyrna Beach and they are trying to determine from where the narcotics originated.

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said the department has collected about 100 pounds on marijuana from beaches just on Wednesday alone.

"It's all packaged the same from what we're hearing from in the other counties also. I can only speculate that it's probably from a boat that went down that was trying to smuggle would be my guess," Staly said.

On Thursday, he said even more marijuana washed up, this time on the beach in Jungle Hut Park. Before deputies arrived, beachgoers were arguing over whether to keep the drugs or turn them into law enforcement.

"Witnesses called us and gave us a description of the person put it in his backpack and was fleeing the area. Now, they're going to stay in our hotel," Staly said.

Deputies said they arrested 61-year-old Robert Kelley on a possession of marijuana charge.

Authorities are still looking for a couple who left the area with a sizable amount of marijuana.

Also on Wednesday, a large package containing 23 smaller packages of marijuana was found on the shore near the 1600 block of Ocean Shore Boulevard in Ormond-by-the-Sea shortly after 11 a.m.

Volusia County Beach Safety Patrol Capt. Tammy Malphurs said the weed probably washed up because of large surf created by Hurricane Florence.

"Typically it happens when we have a large surf and winds on shore. Sometimes, we have a lot of things wash up on shore. We haven't had a lot of things but this is the first thing so far," Malphurs said of debris from the storm.

Staly said it's likely that more marijuana will wash ashore in the coming days, but he said anyone who tries to keep the packages will be arrested.

"You can try to say that you're doing xyz, more than likely you'll be going to jail," Staly said.

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