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What To Do If You Find Drugs On The Beach
According to figures from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there are roughly 10,000 shipwrecks scattered around the United States, with as many as 5,000 in waters off or near Florida. It is not uncommon for storms to uncover wrecks, or even for people walking on the beach to stumble across artifacts or treasure – Florida’s coasts are essentially constantly in motion. However, one more unsavory aspect of this volubility is that sometimes, drugs are found on Florida’s beaches. If you make such a find, it is crucial to seek out authorities immediately.
More Common Than One Might Think
Unfortunately, Florida’s geography makes it a primary location for drugs from Southern and Central America to try and enter the United States. As far back as the 1970s, cartel members were attempting to import marijuana and cocaine by air and sea, leading to what Coast Guard members refer to as “square groupers” (blocks of drugs tossed overboard, for whatever reason) showing up on state beaches with relative regularity.
As with historical artifacts, there is no ‘finders keepers’ allowed if you find contraband on the beach; Florida law classifies it as lost or abandoned property, given that there is no possible way of ownership being discovered. The relevant statute requires someone who finds lost or abandoned property to “report the description and location” to law enforcement. Failure to do so is theft.
Theft Is A Serious Crime
While it will not be an issue for the majority of people, it should go without saying that retaining possession of a ‘square grouper’ is an incredibly bad idea. Theft crimes in Florida are based on the value of the stolen item or items – if, for example, you intentionally retain possession of a block of drugs later valued at $100,000, you have committed grand theft in the first degree, which can carry up to 30 years in prison, plus significant fines.
In general, law enforcement officials urge the average person to not even pick up contraband if possible; rather, to simply keep an eye on it and alert law enforcement, rather than taking even temporary possession. Florida’s history as a drug hotspot has led to harsh laws on possession and distribution of drugs, and it is generally a good idea to give drugs as wide a berth as possible.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Possession Attorney
No one expects to find contraband during a walk on the beach, but it does happen. If you are faced with this kind of situation, contact a law enforcement official – but if you are uneasy or worried about legal fallout for your actions, contacting a West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. may be a good idea. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.