A sea turtle has been rescued off the US coast after it getting trapped among several bales of cocaine.

The US Coast Guard, out on a routine patrol in the eastern Pacific, stumbled across a turtle, trapped in cables and rope that had tied together several large bundles of what turned out to be cocaine.

Crew members on board the cutter Thetis were directed to debris spotted by a military plane.

Speaking to NBC News, Commander Jose Diaz explained how his team spotted and went in to retrieve the debris.

In total there were 26 rectangular parcels, floating in the waters, tied together with pieces of rope.

Diaz said that the smugglers "probably felt the heat coming and got rid of it".

But when they looked closer at the packages, they spotted a turtle, caught in the middle.

The commander said that the turtle was entangled with the cables wrapped around its neck and fins,"There were some marks on her neck, so she may have been there a day or two," Diaz said.

They eventually managed to free the turtle from the cables and pulled the packages on board their vessel to discover that they contained more than 800kg of cocaine.

The boat was patrolling the area as part of Operation Martillo, a scheme to cut down on drug trafficking routes along the eastern Pacific.