The US Coast Guard rescued a giant sea turtle that had become caught on millions of dollars worth of cocaine.
No, the sea turtle wasn’t trying to make a break for Miami with his millions in contraband. The giant sea turtle was actually entangled on 26 packets of cocaine held together by a fishing net. The US Coast Guard rescued the run-down reptile after drug smugglers tossed their payload to avoid getting caught.
The US Coast Guard cutter Thetis was on a 68-day patrol out of Key West Florida when she received a radio transmission from the military. An aircraft had spotted a debris field and radioed the Coast Guard to check it out, believing a vessel to be in distress. The area is known for fragile refugee ships capsizing as people seek asylum in the US.
However, rather than finding a group of tired refugees, they spotted a worn out sea turtle caught in a fishing net which contained 1800 pounds of cocaine. Thetis first rescued the poor creature and then set about hauling the 26 blocks of cocaine aboard.
The cocaine is believed to have a street value of over $53 million dollars, making the sea turtle briefly the richest reptile in the ocean. Although he suffered some “significant chafing” on the neck and flippers, the sea turtle was released back into the wild with minimal damage.
Speaking with NBC News, Commander Jose Diaz speculated that drug smugglers likely tossed the drugs overboard at the first sign of being spotted by passing aircraft. Typically, Coast Guard vessels are directed by patrolling aircraft and being sighted would mean a visit from an armed patrol ship.
“They probably felt the heat coming and got rid of it,” Commander Diaz said.
Thetis is part of Operation Martillo, an international operation targeting trafficking routes along the Central American coastline. Overall the operation has seized seven tons of cocaine worth $135 million during its latest patrol.
The DEA is seeing a spike in cocaine deliveries thought to be part of rising prices for cocaine. In 2014, the DEA reported 1.5 million people have used cocaine, with that number rising to 1.9 million in 2015.
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