Mark Joseph Marchand was arrested near Port Everglades, Florida after customs agents allegedly found him sailing in the dark with 87 bricks of cocaine, news sources report. Marchand, 57, was booked into police custody on a charge of importing cocaine with intent to distribute. It is unclear whether he qualified for bail bond. The press did not specify a lawyer for Marchand.
According to reports, the incident occurred around 1:45 p.m. on Monday. A customs agent reported that a sailboat had been located 30 miles east of Boynton Beach, sources say. The sailboat reportedly appeared to be heading towards the Hillsboro Inlet. Customs agents monitored the boat until it was about a mile off Port Everglades in Broward County, at which point they got into a boat of their own to investigate.
A Customs and Border Patrol vessel carrying agents and drug-sniffing dogs was dispatched to investigate the sailboat at about around 2:10 Tuesday morning, reports say. The patrol vessel neared the sailboat, which was allegedly operating without any lights, and stopped it. Marchand was the only suspect found on board, reports say.
The dogs reportedly conducted a search and indicated that they had detected drugs. After more searching, the agents allegedly discovered two hidden compartments. In one compartment, agents found 22 bricks of cocaine; in the other compartment, agents revealed another 65 bricks of cocaine, reports say. It is currently unclear how much the bricks weighed.
It was not immediately clear where Marchand was coming from or whether he had permission to sail to the U.S. Police are currently conducting an investigation to determine the source of the alleged drugs. It is unclear whether any additional arrests will follow.
Cocaine is a schedule II controlled substance and is one of the most highly abused drugs in the U.S. The illicit drug is brought into the country through various means, including by ships and through airports. Typically, a brick of cocaine weighs one kilo, or one thousand grams. A gram of cocaine can go from $50 to $80 or more on the street.
Some attempts to get cocaine into the United States fail miserably. In the early 90s, cocaine made headlines in South Florida after a low-flying plane dumped over a dozen bales of cocaine from its cargo bay while eluding a U.S. Customs aircraft, sources report. The plane later landed in Homestead General Aviation Airport and two of its occupants were arrested. The identities of the defendants were not published.
The plain was reportedly approaching its destination when agents caught on and gave chase. The persons aboard the aircraft then decided to abort their mission and get rid of the evidence. Officers at a Crime Stoppers meeting spotted the plane dumping its cargo. “So I look up,” one officer reportedly say, “and this plane is coming, and it’s low. It’s very low. Then I see a package come sailing down.” The package was later discovered to be a 75-pound bale of cocaine, sources say. The twin-engine plane allegedly dumped up to 20 bales of cocaine throughout the southern counties as it fled police.