As reported on NCTimes.com by Sarah Gordon.
DEL MAR —- Someone ditched more than 70 pounds of packaged marijuana on the beach early Wednesday, possibly a maritime smuggler, authorities said.
Just before hitting the waves near 11th Street about 4:15 a.m., a surfer noticed something on the rocks, Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Marcos Ramirez said in a written statement.
The man surfed for a couple of hours before investigating what turned out to be a tarp covering a burlap sack full of marijuana bundles.
The surfer immediately called the Sheriff’s Department, Ramirez said.
Deputies removed the 1-kilogram bundles from the rocks and found a second stash in a trash can in the parking lot.
Depending on its quality, the 71 1/2 pounds of pot have a street value between $22,000 and $220,000, Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Eileen Zeidler in San Diego said.
Witnesses told deputies they had seen a small boat on the beach just before 3 a.m.
It is not clear if the Sheriff’s Department believes the drugs were smuggled from Mexico.
So far, the department has contacted neither the DEA nor Immigration and Customs Enforcement for assistance, spokeswomen for both agencies said.
Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for ICE, said that if the drugs were smuggled from Mexico and left for pickup in Del Mar, it would be an unusual drug deal.
“I’m not aware of an incident similar to that here,” she said.
However, authorities have noticed a recent surge in smuggling boats from Mexico here, she said.
So far this year, federal agents have intercepted or found abandoned 17 boats from Mexico in San Diego County, compared with 10 all last year, Mack said.
Most of the boats involved human smuggling, she said.
In early April, a Mexican boat believed to be used for smuggling narcotics washed up on Torrey Pines State Beach, Mack said.
Later that month, a damaged boat with 20 bales of pot inside was ditched in Ocean Beach in San Diego.
Mack said the number of boats coming ashore in North County had been increasing in recent months, but that she wasn’t sure why.
Lost or inexperienced boaters may be at the helm, she said.
Zeidler, the DEA spokeswoman, said that the beefed-up Border Patrol had probably forced smugglers from Mexico to take to the sea.