U.S. Coast Guard and Customs agents in the Florida Keys have been busy lately, scurrying from one pot seizure to another.
A total of 15 packages equaling nearly 400 pounds of marijuana were found in different areas along the Florida coastline in the past month.
This type of activity seems to be making a comeback as drug smuggling routes are shifting.
“There has been a significant spike in drugs washing up on shore,” U.S. Border Patrol Miami Sector Division Chief Todd Bryant said in a press release.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stats indicate that these coastal pot seizures have doubled in the past year, from 49 last year up to 95 in 2016.
Pot smugglers on the high seas are known to dump their cargo into the water if they’re being pursued or for their contacts to pick up later. In past decades, it was not unusual for boaters or swimmers to stumble upon abandoned bundles of contraband in the form of bales of weed.
This was particularly common during the late 1970s and ‘80s when the Medellin Cartel was running its product up through the Caribbean. That quieted down in the 1990s as drugs began to enter the country by land along the southwest border.
Having flashbacks to the cocaine-cowboy days of the 1980s?
According to the Sun Sentinel, federal authorities have indicated that running pot and cocaine by boat is making a comeback in Florida.
Increasing violence and infighting among drug cartels, as well as more effective enforcement in Mexico, appears to be prompting traffickers to change their smuggling routes from the southwest border back to the Caribbean.
Increased traffic has revived speedboat runs from the Bahamas to South Florida and supplied a pipeline of drugs from Puerto Rico to Central Florida.
“Some old [smuggling] routes appear to be reviving, including ones that lead directly into Florida,” Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command, told the Sun Sentinel.
In this latest incident, the CBP is encouraging the public to report suspicious activity, such as “drug and alien smuggling,” by calling a special toll free number.