The town of Bluefields in Nicaragua has a secret: its people don't have to work because every week, sometimes everyday, sacks of cocaine, tossed by drug traffickers avoiding US border patrol, drift in from the sea:
Bluefields is a creation of the gods of geography. Located halfway between the cocaine labs of Colombia and the 300 million noses of the United States, Bluefields is ground zero for cocaine transportation. Nicaraguan waters are near Colombian territorial limits, making the area extremely popular with cocaine smugglers using very small, very fast fishing boats. [...]
When the Americans get close, the traffickers toss the cocaine overboard, both to eliminate evidence and lighten their load in an escape attempt.[...]
Those bales of cocaine float, and the currents bring them west right into the chain of islands, beaches and cays which make up the huge lagoons that surround Bluefields on Nicaragua's Atlantic coast.
"There are no jobs here, unemployment is 85 per cent," says Moises Arana, who was mayor of Bluefields from 2001 to 2005.
"It is sad to say, but the drugs have made contributions. Look at the beautiful houses, those mansions come from drugs. We had a women come into the local electronics store with a milk bucket stuffed full of cash. She was this little Miskito [native] woman and she had $80,000."
Hujo Sugo, a historian of Bluefields, says the floating coke has created a new local hobby.
"People here now go beachcombing for miles, they walk until the find packets. Even the lobster fisherman now go out with the pretence of fishing but really they are looking for la langosta blanca - the white lobster."