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Treasure map leads federal agents to drugs on remote island

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Updated: 8/15/2012 7:11 pm
St. Augustine, Fla. -- It sounds like something out of a movie. Treasure maps leading to buried treasure on a remote island. But instead of treasure, 54-year-old Rodney Hyden, ended up with drug charges.

It all started back in June. A detective from the Alachua County Sheriff's Office received a tip about the Archer man, trying to get 30 kilograms of cocaine transported from Puerto Rico to St. Augustine.

Tom Blanchard, Assistant Special Agent in charge of Jacksonville Homeland Security Investigations says, "It turns out that a friend of Hyden's had found the cocaine while he was fishing and buried it there on the island."

Hyden mentions to the sheriffs office source, that he's looking for a way to transport the drugs.

He had flown over to Puerto Rico to find it himself. He located the pile near a turtle sanctuary on the island of Culebra, but didn't have the tools to dig it up.

That's when the undercover agents, posing as drug trafficking pilots, step in. "After he failed in his own attempts that's when he provided us with the GPS coordinates and the maps and asked us to retrieve it for him. Transport it back to the Jacksonville area where he was going to subsequently sell it," says Blanchard.

Hyden agrees to pay the agents eight pounds of cocaine for flying the drugs to St. Augustine. So he charts out a map of where to find his 'treasure'. Blanchard says, "Never in my experience has the criminal provided us with a map leading us to the drugs."

And sure enough federal agents and Puerto Rican authorities find the drugs using his modern day computer treasure map. 'I've been in law enforcement 25 years and I've yet to see a situation exactly like this," Blanchard says.

The following day Hyden met with an undercover agent at gander mountain store in St. Augustine. The agent tells Hyden he has the cocaine. When Hyden transfers the duffel bag of drugs into his car, officers arrest him.

Blanchard says, "It took a long time for him to arrange for it and unfortunately it didn't work out for him." Federal agents arrested Hyden here Friday for possession of five kilograms or more of cocaine, with the intent to distribute.
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