A retired policeman on holiday in the Canary Islands was left gobsmacked when he made a beach-side drugs bust – after stumbling across a stash of cannabis worth a whopping £90,000.
Richard Cresswell, 58, was stunned when he found the illegal packages washed up on the beach during a holiday in the Canary Island of Fuerteventura.
And in a bizarre twist, the retired policeman took the stash back to his own hotel room and guarded it overnight - after a local police station said there was no-one on duty to help him until the next morning.
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Dad-of-two Richard, from Newark, Notts, said: "I'd been searching through the flotsam – there's some interesting stuff coming across the Atlantic with the Gulf Stream from South America, and another stream bringing in stuff from Canada.
"There was a big pile of stuff, including logs, oil drums, old fish boxes with Canadian addresses – I was just exploring really, it was quite interesting because it wasn't the run-of-the-mill plastic bottles and fishing nets.
"When I looked closer, I saw somebody had stitched the sides of the case right up with heavy duty line, so I couldn't get into it.
"I was out in a rocky bay, so I went back to the sandy area where my friend Blair and my sister were – I knew Blair had a Swiss army knife, so he came back with me to help open it.
"We cut the line and opened the case – we had to cut through three layers of brown packing tape.
"It took us some time to get through all the layers – we were going quite carefully as we had no idea what was inside, it could've been explosives.
"It was clearly something of interest.
"When we got inside the case it was like pass the parcel – there were five packages, each weighing 5kg.
"Each package held 10 more parcels, each of those contained two balloons, and each of those contained five 50g slabs of cannabis resin.
"Once I saw that, I realised what I'd stumbled across – I recognised the smell straight away.
"My initial reaction was shock – although I'd had a vague suspicion it might be something like that, the quantity was astounding.
"I'd certainly never come across a drugs find that big during my career as a police officer."
Richard and Blair took the stash to a local police station, but there were no police officers around.
Not wanting to leave such a large quantity of drugs with a civilian on the front desk, so after confirming they'd be back in the morning to speak to a sergeant the duo snuck the hoard back to their hotel.
Richard, who retired in 2011 after spending the last eight years of his career as a custody sergeant, said: "We just strolled into the hotel with the slabs.
"People were looking at us and wondering what it was.
"I kept two slabs in my room, and Blair kept three in his.
"Because I'd been to the police station already and told them I'd return in the morning to speak to a senior officer, I was fairly confident that if anyone were to find the drugs on us we'd be OK.
"When we went back, I saw a sergeant and handed him one of the smaller 50g slabs, and he looked at me as if to say, 'that's pretty run-of-the-mill'.
"But when I showed him the two 5kg packages his eyes lit up – and when I told him there were three more to come he was completely taken aback."
Richard and Blair were taken to another police station, more equipped to deal with the find – where they were questioned for four hours, and the drugs were taken into evidence.
The investigation is still ongoing – when the stash was weighed at a local fishing port, it was found to be a whopping 25.7kg.
Richard said: "When I looked up the average price of an ounce in the UK and did the maths in my head, I worked out the potential street value to be around £90,000.
"I knew it would've been a large value, it was a large quantity – but I had no idea how valuable it was at first.
"The value's more than enough to pay off my mortgage – but that was never a consideration.
"There was sea water in some of the layers, so I'm guessing smugglers threw it overboard as a coastguard approached – but who knows where it originated from.
"It was carefully wrapped though, so the cannabis was completely dry and not contaminated.
"After all that drama, we left the police station and went back to enjoying the last day of our holiday before heading home.
"When I told my former colleagues they were quite amazed by it, and my friends and family were shocked – it's quite exciting and interesting.
"It's one of the crazier things that's ever happened to me – it's not something that many people experience when they go on holiday."