The mayor of Tampa, Florida, recently stumbled upon a 70-pound bale of cocaine, valued at over $1 million, in a bizarre discovery that took place during a family fishing trip in the Florida Keys earlier this summer.
The former Tampa police chief and current Mayor Jane Castor was enjoying a day of mahi-mahi fishing alongside her family when the incident took place.
According to Castor, her brother spotted the black, mysterious package bobbing in the Atlantic Ocean.
“My younger brother saw some debris in the water, and so we went over there because, quite often, if you fish, the smaller fish will go under any kind of shade they can get. That attracts the larger fish, like triple tail,” the mayor said. “We thought it was shade as opposed to something shady. But, you know, the closer we got and once I saw the rip in it and saw the tightly wrapped packages, I was like definitely that’s a bale of cocaine.”
The mayor, who had spent around three decades in law enforcement, including a stint in narcotics, immediately identified the contents of the drifting package.
“Hey, look at that,” Kelly exclaimed.
“Cocaine,” Castor responded without hesitation.
The family successfully hauled the package, roughly the size of a microwave and wrapped in worn layers of plastic, onto their boat. Inside, tightly packed bricks of cocaine were revealed upon a split in the wrapping.
The discovery took place off the Middle Keys city of Marathon, a location Mayor Castor took note of.
The mayor, who had been participating in the annual recreational spiny lobster harvest, dialed the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office as soon as they reached a no-wake zone, at first joking that police might think the cocaine belonged to her.
“You know, my family was concerned, like, ‘Oh my gosh, what if they think it’s ours,’” Castor quipped. “I’m like, come on. So, we pulled it up and then as soon as we were in cell phone range, we called to notify them.”
Law enforcement officers arrived at their vacation rental, and two federal agents eventually whisked the package away for further investigation.
The find was kept relatively low-key in the media, with headlines focusing on a “recreational boater” discovering the drugs, omitting the fact that it was the mayor of Tampa who had made the discovery.
Walter Slosar, chief patrol agent with the Border Patrol’s Miami sector, later shared a photo on Twitter showcasing the 25 bricks of cocaine, each adorned with a blue and purple butterfly.
This unexpected discovery was one of several instances of narcotics being found in the Florida Keys’ waters during July. Earlier in the month, boaters came across 87 pounds of hashish offshore of Marathon, with another spotting 62 pounds of cocaine, the bricks uniquely decorated with images of the Eiffel Tower.
The following week, another individual found an eight-pound bale of marijuana northwest of Big Pine Key in the Lower Keys.
Despite the drug-laden surprise, Mayor Castor and her family continued their vacation, indulging in diving and fishing activities. While the fishing did not yield any further illicit caches, the Castor family managed to reel in about 60 lobsters, making the trip memorable for reasons beyond the ocean’s bounty.