PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Defenders from the 45th Security Forces Squadron seized nearly 30 kilograms of cocaine that washed ashore on a Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, beach, May 19, 2021.
According to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, the drugs have an estimated value of approximately $1.2 million.
Angy Chambers, 45th Civil Engineer Squadron wildlife manager, said she was patrolling the beach while performing a sea turtle nesting survey when she noticed a small package wrapped tightly in plastic and tape. She said she thought it could be drugs.
"I immediately contacted the 45th Security Forces Squadron," said Chambers. "While I was waiting for them to arrive, I drove a little further and noticed another package, and then another. At that point, I called SFS back and suggested they bring their UTV, or Utility Terrain Vehicle, as I counted at least 18 packages."
Joseph Parker, 45th SFS flight sergeant and on scene commander at the incident, said when he arrived, he suspected the packages contained drugs, and began search and closure protocols on all beaches.
"After securing the scene and collecting the contraband, a Brevard County Sheriff's Office narcotics agent performed a field test on one of the packages and verified that it was cocaine," said Parker. "We then documented all 24 packages and placed them in evidence bags."
The drugs were then transported to a secure location where they were turned over to Homeland Security Investigations, the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
David Castro, HSI special agent who responded to collect the drugs, said HSI then examined the drugs for any unique markings and identifiers, took photographs of the scene and contraband, weighed the drugs, and conducted a field test to determine the drug type.
The intelligence collected during the examination is provided to the El Paso Intelligence Center who serves as a repository for information regarding abandoned drugs discovered within the United States.
As for where the drugs came from, Castro said oftentimes maritime drug traffickers will transport bulk shipments of controlled substances in bales consisting of 25 ‘bricks,’ or kilograms of drugs. He said sometimes the bale wrapping is destroyed during transit causing bricks to be lost at sea and eventually recovered on the coastline of the United States.
The partnership between the 45th SFS and HSI was crucial to preventing the spread of these drugs, Castro said.
"Security Forces are a critical partner in the protection of the Homeland," said Castro. "Our partnership is important in stemming the flow of illegal drugs and countering the negative effects of transnational criminal organizations. Security Forces provide HSI with valuable information and resources that aid us in the interdiction, recovery, and investigation of illicit drugs entering the United States."
Parker said he is thankful to Chambers for her vigilance, and for the team effort that will prevent these drugs from ever reaching the streets of America.
"We take pride in protecting our base and the surrounding community," said Parker. "There is also a higher level of job satisfaction knowing that these drugs will not make it into our community."
The origin of the cocaine is under investigation.