At least a dozen times in the last year, small fortunes in illegal narcotics washed up on Texas beaches after being lost by seaborne smugglers scrambling for new ways into the U.S., the Houston Chronicle reports. The drugs, wrapped in plastic and potentially worth millions of dollars on the streets, were turned in by beachcombers, fishermen, park rangers. and deputies. The lost loads were mostly cocaine, followed by marijuana and methamphetamine.
About 800 pounds of marijuana washed up in one shot, 24 kilograms of cocaine in another, and a similar-sized load of cocaine near a remote beach, according to Houston’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a coalition of law-enforcement agencies here. In May, a woman strolling near Galveston found a barnacled black bag with 37 pounds of cocaine pressed into bricks. Federal officials contend the “wash-ups” are among the strongest signals yet that traffickers are turning more to the sea to evade U.S. efforts to secure the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. There is a string of theories on how the drugs ended up on the beach: dumped by traffickers evading capture; bounced off a speed boat that hit a big wave while zipping up the coast; or floated up as the last signs of a boat lost at sea during a journey that went bad.