Two members of an Air Force Sergeants Association beach clean-up crew pose with bundles they found during the clean-up, which police determined were bricks of cocaine. The AFSA group called Biloxi police, while a local man who found at least two other bricks, police say, was arrested for trying to sell them. Photo from AFSA Facebook page.
When the Biloxi chapter of the Air Force Sergeants Association holds a beach cleanup, it typically rids a long stretch of white Gulf Coast sand of cigarette butts and empty plastic bottles. But on Saturday, Aug. 13, the group found a less common kind of litter: eight bricks of cocaine, wrapped in tape and plastic for smuggling and labeled with “Dior” stickers.
“Yeah, that's not something we normally find,” Capt. Milton Houseman, a spokesman for the Biloxi Police Department, told Coffee or Die Magazine.
The Air Force group found the bricks during a beach cleanup community service project for Chapter 652 of the Air Force Sergeants Association on Saturday. As the group worked its way down the Biloxi beach, members stumbled onto taped packages that appeared to have washed up on shore.
The group shared on its Facebook page that volunteers had found “two bricks taped together with a lot of tape.” The beach cleanup participants pulled the bricks out of the water and called the police. Within minutes, they'd stumbled upon six more bricks.
Biloxi Police Department officers examine taped bricks discovered by a group of US Air Force Sergeants Association members during a beach cleanup Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, on Biloxi Beach in Mississippi. US Air Force Sergeants Association photo.
“That's what's unique about our location, is the prevailing currents eventually will bring most things to our coast,” Houseman said.
Members of the AFSA group were among several beachgoers to turn in drug bundles found on Biloxi beaches over the weekend between White Avenue and the Biloxi Schooner Pier Complex, Houseman said. State authorities found more near Deer Island. However, not everyone followed the AFSA’s lead by immediately calling police, Houseman said.
“That was really nice of them to find that and call us,” Houseman said. “Whereas somebody found some and didn't call us, and it didn't turn out well for him.”
According to the Harrison County Jail Tracker, Joey Lee Ware, 37, was arrested Monday and charged with aggravated trafficking in controlled substances. Police found at least one and a half bricks with the “Dior” stickers in his possession when he was arrested, Houseman said.
Joey Lee Ware, 37, was arrested Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Biloxi, Mississippi, and charged with aggravated trafficking in controlled substances. Harrison County photo.
The Air Force Sergeants Association is a national veterans service organization with chapters associated with most Air Force bases.
With the AFSA bundle, Biloxi Police Department officers conducted a presumptive field test on the packages that Houseman compared to “a test we would do if we pulled you over in your car.” When positive, a presumptive test gives officers reason to make an arrest, if needed, and seize evidence for more formal testing in a crime lab.
Houseman told Coffee or Die the origin of the drugs “could have been so many things.”
“It could have been been a drop,” Houseman said. “They could have dropped it and somebody was supposed to pick it up. They didn't do it or they missed the drop. Or they were a victim of the tide and the tide took it away from them. They could have been encountered by, say, US Coast Guard or some federal agency at sea and panicked and threw it overboard. That's what happens a lot of times, is they pay these people to transport narcotics, and they panic and throw it overboard.”
Houseman said Biloxi Police and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources patrolled the beach for several days afterward to ensure “nothing else pops up.”
Noelle is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die through a fellowship from Military Veterans in Journalism. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned with the US Army Cadet Command. Noelle also worked as a civilian journalist covering several units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment on Fort Benning, before she joined the military as a public affairs specialist.
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