‘Square Groupers’ (Marijuana) Still Washing Ashore in South Florida

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While the heyday of Miami’s “cocaine cowboys” has passed, packages of drugs continue to wash ashore in South Florida, a testament to the continued importance of Caribbean trafficking routes a time-honored modus operandi.

On September 29, police found 400 pounds of marijuana in several burlap sacks on the beach in Jupiter, Florida. Officials say the marijuana packages, which were presumably part of a discarded drug shipment, could have been sold for more than $1 million.

According to the Florida Sun Sentinel, this is not the first such discovery this year. Law enforcement officers have reportedly found more than 885 pounds of marijuana in the region since April.

InSight Crime Analysis

The find is reminiscent of a bygone era of drug trafficking, when so-called “white lobsters” (cocaine packages) and “square groupers” (marijuana) washed up on the beaches of southern Florida on a regular basis in the 1980s. These packages are abandoned when traffickers sense they are being pursued by authorities, or, in some cases, they are dropped into the sea via aircraft, and are meant to be picked up later by boat.

When US anti-drug officials began to crack down on cocaine smuggling in the 1980s, washed up drug packages became less common. This coincided with increased use of the overland smuggling routes through Central America and Mexico, and the rise of powerful Mexican drug cartels like the Sinaloa Cartel.

In recent years, however, evidence has emerged to suggest that the Caribbean route is returning to its heyday. According to the US military’s Southern Command, drug flights through the region have spiked in response to increasing pressure in Central America. 

As evidence of this, Dominican authorities captured several members of a multinational drug trafficking ring this week, which included military officials, that was operating from a small city outside of the country’s capital, Santo Domingo, where they receiving regular air cargoes of a dubious nature.

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