Tom Williams: 'The Bird Watchers and the Briefcase'

The $20 bill was just one of hundreds found in the magroves on March 25. The small pistol was the type used by high ranking German officers in World War 2.

The $20 bill was just one of hundreds found in the magroves on March 25. The small pistol was the type used by high ranking German officers in World War 2.

Marco Island and the surrounding mangroves may be one of the best bird watching regions in Southwest Florida, but the old and battered briefcase found by Ian Martin and Stewart Harris of Great Brittan was holding much more than the reclusive sighting of a rare tropical bird.

The two birdwatchers from Cornwall England were trudging through the mangroves near the Goodland Bridge on March 25 when they discovered a very battered and weatherworn satchel-type briefcase. The leather bound container was waterlogged and covered with barnacles when it was found near a saltwater tidal stream. When the case was opened after discovery, Martin and Harris felt they had been transported onto a James Bond movie set. Inside the damaged and salt soaked container was over $500,000 American dollars in the old currency used back in the 1980s.

There was also an automatic pistol with a silencer and two spare clips of ammunition. The bullets and the gun were also saltwater damaged as was much of the currency after spending several years out in the elements.

Florida state officials and a liaison officer from the Department of the Treasury were called to the Goodland Bridge after the two birdwatchers reported their find to the Marco Island Police.

“It was really like something out of a film,” Ian Martin explained. “We were stalking along an animal trail and hoping to sight and photograph tri-color herons when we came upon the old satchel.”

“We discovered the case along a tidal estuary as it was caught in a section of mangrove roots,” Stewart Harris confirmed. “After a bit of difficulty, we pulled the case free and opened the box. When we saw the gun with the silencer and that the American dollars were of the old sort we decided to call the authorities. It was obvious the container was from some type of criminal activity. We were also concerned that the American money might have been counterfeit. After all,” Harris continued with a smile that added to his English accent,” If we had kept the money and tried spending forged cash, we might have ended up with a much longer holiday in America that we had planned.”

“Marco Island and the Goodland community were certainly in the hotbed of drug smuggling during the 1980s,” David Black explained. Black was called to the scene by local Marco Police as a liaison officer working with the State of Florida and the Department of the Treasury.

Because the half-a-million in cash was in the old style currency and dated from the 1980s, Black was asked to evaluate the money and determine if the old 20s, 50s and 100s were real or counterfeit.

“The reason our currency was changed to the new style with watermarks and larger portraits was because of all the counterfeit bills coming in from overseas. During the 80s, many of these large shipments of forged cash were coming into South Florida via the drug trade and the international counterfeiters were so good at producing replicas of the US greenbacks it was difficult to determine the genuine from the bogus.”

Adding to the mystery of the long lost briefcase and possibly opening a new murder investigation is the previously unidentified skeletal remains of a man in his mid 40s found in the mangroves in 1990. The skeleton at the time of discovery was estimated to have been out in the elements for about five years and was found only about two hundred yards from where Martin and Harris discovered the battered old satchel. With the discovery of the waterlogged cash and the silenced pistol, it now remains unclear if a new motive for murder has been discovered.

“There were a lot of crazy things going on during the 80s and a lot of people went missing or worse.” David Black confirmed. “When the smugglers shifted from marijuana to cocaine they started killing each other. All of the big cocaine deals were closed and concluded with large packages of cash. We now believe the two Englishmen have discovered a long lost drug deal gone wrong and the answer to the human skeleton found in the mangroves in 1990.”

After a methodical evaluation of the waterlogged cash, Officer Black has concluded that all of the soggy 20’s, 50’s and 100’s were in fact genuine U.S. greenbacks and legal tender.

State authorities have announced there will be no reward or finder’s fee for the two bird watching Englishmen from Cornwall and that the outdated cash will reconciled with the Department of the Treasury and then shredded and burned.

The briefcase and the automatic pistol with the silencer will be donated to the Marco Museum along with photographs of the cash to be showcased as an exhibit. Future exhibits featuring: Rum Running from Cuba during the era of Prohibition will also be displayed alongside the new exhibition entitled: The Drug Running Days in the Ten Thousand Islands.

Upon closing ... it is vital that all readers must understand this entire story and report was intended only for entertainment and is a complete work of fiction! There is no truth in this tale whatsoever. You have just read a story with only one intention: April Fool Marco Island!

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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