Ireland cocaine surprise: More than $5 million worth found in torpedo-like tube

Cocaine had been stuffed inside a torpedo-like canister that washed ashore on Ireland's west coast.

Story highlights

  • Irish authorities say 75 kilograms of cocaine found inside torpedo-like canister
  • Local man discovers object on secluded beach on Ireland's west coast

(CNN)A picnic, an afternoon of kite flying and a drug haul worth more than $5 million -- it wasn't quite the day trip Michael Vaughan had bargained for when he and his family headed to the beach.

Three months after Vaughan came across a strange-looking, 2.5-meter-long torpedo-like canister that washed ashore near Liscannor, Ireland, authorities announced the discovery of 75 kilograms of cocaine worth a street value of 5 million euros ($5.4 million).
"The concealment may have been attached below the waterline of a cargo ship or other maritime vessel," read a statement Monday from the Revenue Customs Service. "However, it is not possible at this stage to say either where the drugs originated, or their intended destination."
    Irish authorities made the discovery public Monday. They said it's unclear where the drugs originated.
    Andrew Ryan, a Revenue enforcement manager, told CNN it was the first time Irish authorities had come across drugs inside such a torpedo-like object.
    The discovery comes after Vaughan, a local hotelier, and his family first saw the torpedo on Kilmacreehy beach on Ireland's west coast at the end of August.
    After taking his family to the beach, he stumbled upon the canister.
    "We went to lift it, but it was so heavy -- you'd need more than a couple of people to shift it, " he told CNN.
    "We just left it in the end -- perhaps if it was lighter we might have taken it home."
    Seventy-five kilograms of cocaine were discovered inside the torpedo-like object.
    He said that he and his family had always been interested in debris that washed up on the beach.
    "But did we ever know what was inside? And that it was drugs? No. It just looked like an old rusty concrete tube," he said.
    Local residents didn't suspect cocaine was inside the strange-looking object on the beach.
    Vaughan described it as "a metal cylinder with a concrete cap on each end with an unusual welded piece."
    He said plenty of his neighbors had walked past the tube since August, and while it was a topic of conversation, few gave much thought about it.
    "It's remarkable given that the canister had been there for months," Vaughan told CNN.
    "I was speaking to a lady who walks her dog on the beach, and she said she had seen it, too."
    Little did residents know what was inside until authorities opened it to discover the drugs after being tipped off about the strange object on the beach.
    "My cousin also passed it while looking for unusual things around the seashore," Vaughan said.
    "We just thought it had come off a ship and was nothing exciting."