400 pounds of marijuana floating off the Florida Keys is a sign longstanding trafficking routes are still in use

In less than 30 days between September and October this year, Customs and Border Patrol agents and the US Coast Guard recovered nearly 400 pounds of marijuana floating in the waters off the Florida Keys and eastern Florida.

The drugs, collected in 15 separate incidents, were found floating at sea and washed up on shore. The street value of the total haul was estimated to be $306,400, the CBP said in a release.

The drug seizures over the last several weeks appear to be part of an upswing in such incidents.

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Marijuana laws by state

Alabama

No legalization of any kind

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Alaska

Marijuana legalized for medical and recreational use 

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Arizona

Marijuana legalized for medical use

(photo: TaylorB90/Flickr)

Arkansas

No legalization of any kind 

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California

Marijuana legalized for medical use

(Photo: Dorling Kindersley via Getty Images)

Colorado

Marijuana legalized for medical and recreational use  

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Connecticut

Marijuana legalized for medical use 

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Delaware

Marijuana legalized for medical use 

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Florida

No legalization of any kind

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Georgia

No legalization of any kind

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Hawaii

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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Idaho

No legalization of any kind

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Illinois

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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Indiana

No legalization of any kind

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Iowa

No legalization of any kind

(photo: yorkfoto)

Kansas

No legalization of any kind

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Kentucky

No legalization of any kind

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Louisiana

No legalization of any kind

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Maine

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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Maryland

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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Massachusetts

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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Michigan

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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Minnesota

Marijuana legalized for medical use

(photo: anthonylibrarian/Flickr)

Mississippi

No legalization of any kind

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Missouri

No legalization of any kind 

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Montana

Marijuana legalized for medical use

(photo: J.Stephen Conn/Flickr)

Nebraska

No legalization of any kind 

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Nevada

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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New Hampshire

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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New Jersey

Marijuana legalized for medical use 

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New Mexico

Marijuana legalized for medical use 

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New York

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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North Carolina

No legalization of any kind

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North Dakota

No legalization of any kind

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Ohio

No legalization of any kind

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Oklahoma

No legalization of any kind

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Oregon

Marijuana legalized for medical and recreational use  

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Pennsylvania

No legalization of any kind

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Rhode Island 

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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South Carolina

No legalization of any kind

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South Dakota

No legalization of any kind

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Tennessee

No legalization of any kind

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Texas

No legalization of any kind

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Utah

No legalization of any kind 

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Vermont

Marijuana legalized for medical use

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Virginia

No legalization of any kind

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Washington

Marijuana legalized for medical and recreational use 

(photo: Shutterstock)

West Virginia 

No legalization of any kind

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Wisconsin

No legalization of any kind 

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Wyoming

No legalization of any kind

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According to the CBP, during Fiscal Year 2015, which ran October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, there were 49 such seizures. During the following Fiscal Year, which ended September 30, those type of seizures nearly doubled, hitting 95.

"There has been a significant spike in drugs washing up on shore," US Border Patrol Miami Sector division chief, Todd Bryant, said in a release. "This is at least partially attributable to improved partnerships across the state but potentially also to a shift in smuggling methods."

Floating drug loads are not a new development for Florida. During the 1980s, smugglers frequently used maritime and air routes over the eastern Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to funnel drugs into South Florida and on to points north.

US Customs and Border Patrol Coast Guard drugs off Florida coastUS Customs and Border Protection

Since those smugglers often dropped drug cargoes into the water — either while avoiding pursuers or for later pickup by other traffickers — it was not uncommon for bales of marijuana or cocaine to be spotted by boaters or to wash up on Florida's coast.

Seizures of drugs at sea or floating ashore have occurred with some regularity since the heyday of Caribbean trafficking in the 1980s.

A mid-1998 New York Times report described the increased use of airplane-to-boat drops and of stash houses as a sign that the Bahamas-Florida smuggling route was seeing more traffic. That resurgence appeared to be spurred on by smaller, more flexible organizations making use of better navigation tools to augment their drug-transport operations in the expanse of the Bahamian archipelago.

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