(NEW YORK) -- Over 30 kilograms of cocaine in 24 separate packages -- worth approximately $1.2 million -- were discovered washed ashore during a turtle nesting survey at a Cape Canaveral Space Force station last month.
The strange incident occurred last month on May 19, when wildlife manager at the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, Angy Chambers, was patrolling the beach while performing a sea turtle nesting survey when she said she noticed a small package wrapped very tightly in plastic and tape, according to a statement from the U.S. Space Force.
Thinking it could be drugs, Chambers said she immediately contacted the 45th Security Forces Squadron.
"While I was waiting for them to arrive, I drove a little further and noticed another package, and then another,” said Chambers in the statement released by the U.S. Space Force. “At that point, I called SFS back and suggested they bring their UTV, or Utility Terrain Vehicle, as I counted at least 18 packages."
It wasn’t long before Joseph Parker, 45th SFS flight sergeant and on scene commander at the incident, arrived and came to the same conclusion as Chambers and began the search and closure protocol on all the beaches near to where the packages washed up.
In total, Chambers and Parker ended up finding 24 packages which, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, have an estimated value of approximately $1.2 million.
"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.
The 24 packages of cocaine were subsequently transported to a secure location and turned over to Homeland Security Investigations who are trying to identify the origin of the cocaine, which is still under investigation, according to the U.S. Space Force.
David Castro, the HSI special agent who responded to collect the drugs, said that the packages of drugs were examined for any unique markings and possible identifiers and the evidence collected was given 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,” Castro was cited as saying in the statement issued by the U.S. Space Force. “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.”
Parker said he is thankful to Chambers for her vigilance and for being so responsible in her reporting of the incident.
"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."