South Carolina anglers catch dolphinfish, then cocaine

Anglers immediately contacted authorities

When offshore anglers are looking for dolphinfish, they get really interested when they see weed lines or floating debris. Any type of floating objects attract baitfish, especially in the vast, open ocean. And that baitfish attracts dolphins. Whether casting or trolling, the anglers pay special attention to anything floating, whether it’s a pallet, a cargo container, or part of a dock.

It could even be abandoned cocaine, as two unidentified anglers found out after catching numerous dolphin about 70 miles off the coast of Charleston, S.C., this past weekend.

It wasn’t a big object, but it doesn’t have to be when it’s the only debris around in such an open area of the sea. And this object was about the size of an average suitcase. At first, the anglers only cared that mahi-mahi were all around it. They caught fish for about three hours before deciding to head back in. But before going in, they wanted to see what the debris was.

“We trolled past it and every time we passed it, we caught a fish,” one of the anglers told WCSC in Charleston.

30 bricks of cocaine

Once they pulled the package aboard their boat, they looked inside it. It appeared to be 30 bricks of cocaine, so they immediately notified the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard instructed them to head to their marina, where they were met by officers from the North Charleston Police.

The police estimated it was between 30 and 50 kilos of cocaine valued at between $750,000 and $1 million.

Coast Guard Lt. J.G. Phillip VanderWeit said the anglers did the right thing by calling them.

“It definitely doesn’t happen off the Charleston coast every day. It’s a bit more common further south, whether in the Caribbean or the south Pacific,” said VanderWeit.

Authorities have launched an investigation and will try to determine the source of the cocaine.

This story first appeared on

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