The Coast Guard yesterday ended a four-day search of the waters off Ocean City that had netted an estimated $4 million worth of hashish -- the largest such haul in Maryland history.
More than 350 pounds of high-grade hashish were discovered Sunday and Monday floating in rubber bags among the sparse wreckage of an unidentified 40-50-foot boat, according to Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Thomas C. Booth.
Coast Guard vessels and planes began the search Saturday for a boat that later turned up on shore. On Sunday morning, they came across the first package of hashish as well as the remains of the vessel apparently being used to smuggle the packages ashore.
The search, which covered a 1,600-square mile area, turned up no trace of the boat's crew, according to the Coast Guard official.
"We have a bunch of debris out there, and no indication of where it came from," he said.
Booth added that the boat appeared to have met a "violent fate" -- perhaps from a collision or explosion. Only small pieces of wreckage -- none more than five feet long -- have been found, he said.
The Coast Guard has no idea whether it has recovered all the hashish. It's possible "the former owner may think that some of the cargo is still out there and come back to look for it," Booth said.
Some of the containers of hashish might eventually wash up on shore, he added. The drugs and wreckage were discovered seven to 10 miles off the Ocean City coast, according to Booth.
The hashish is of such high quality that investigators at first thought it was brown heroin, he said.