New details are emerging after a 51-year-old Albertan was arrested on a speedboat that US authorities say was carrying 650 kilograms of methamphetamine between Washington state and British Columbia.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers spotted the 5.5-meter Bayliner Capri speedboat rolling low in the water Wednesday morning near Stuart Island in Washington state, a few meters from the Canada-US border near Vancouver Island.
Authorities used their lights and sirens to stop the Canadian-registered vessel as it headed west toward the border around 10 a.m., according to a sworn affidavit in Seattle court on Thursday by a department agent. US Homeland Security.
The speedboat operator identified himself as a resident of Cowichan Bay, British Columbia, and said he was heading for Sidney, British Columbia, north of Victoria, according to court documents.
The man initially told customs officers he was moving the boat for a friend, but got lost and wandered off in US waters.
He also told officers he had no weapons on board and complied when asked to remove a canvas that hid the boat’s aft deck, the documents show.
Under the blanket, officers found more than a dozen duffel bags stacked on the deck, each secured with a padlock through the zipper, according to the affidavit.
The man told officers he did not know what was in the bags, according to the documents.
US authorities recovered 28 duffel bags of methamphetamine from the boat on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (US Customs and Border Patrol)
FOUND GUN AND SIGNED DOLLAR BILL
According to the documents, an officer punched a small hole in one of the bags, revealing its contents as suspected crystal meth wrapped in vacuum-sealed bags.
The man was immediately taken into custody and taken, along with the boat, to the US Coast Guard station in Bellingham, Washington, where he was turned over to Homeland Security investigators.
Coastguard station customs officers searched the speedboat with a police dog, eventually revealing 28 locked duffel bags with suspected methamphetamine found on the deck, cabin and storage areas.
The contents were later tested and found compatible with methamphetamine, according to investigators.
Some of the duffel bags seized from the boat. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
Officers also removed from the boat a backpack containing a loaded 9mm pistol and a box of 9mm ammunition, according to court documents.
The backpack also contained a ledger “which documented details regarding this and other narcotics trafficking events,” according to the documents.
“Three cell phones and a single US dollar bill were also discovered bearing ’28 duffel bags’ and a signature,” according to the affidavit.
“Based on my training and experience, this is a verification method used by drug trafficking organizations to maintain security when transporting narcotics,” the officer said.
STRANGER OFFERS $1,000 FOR BAGGAGE TRANSPORT
During police questioning, the man in custody told investigators he was from Alberta and was in Victoria looking for a job, the documents show.
He also said that while walking around the marina in Sidney, he was approached by a man named “Mike” who offered him $1,000 to drive the boat with him from Sidney to Anacortes, Washington, and back. with his “baggage”.
The man accepted the offer and “Mike” took a photo of his ID and then took him to the speedboat.
The accused told investigators he left Sidney on Tuesday and arrived at the Washington State Park dock in Anacortes later that day.
It was at the wharf that he encountered four men in a black Toyota pickup truck towing a boat trailer. The men took him to the Anacortes hostel, where he was left alone overnight, according to the documents.
He left his room at 7 a.m. the next day and encountered three men towing the boat behind the Toyota. The four men returned to the dock where they launched the boat with the accused at the helm heading for Vancouver Island.
“FEAR FOR THE SAFETY OF HIS FAMILY”
Investigators say the defendant denied any knowledge of the drugs in interviews and claimed he found the gun. He later admitted that the gun was his and that he carried it for safety while hiking, according to the documents.
The accused told officers that “after he left, he drove the boat around and considered turning the boat over to the police,” the documents say. “But he didn’t because he feared for his family’s safety.”
The man also allegedly told investigators he was instructed to leave the boat in Sidney when he returned and leave the dollar bill on the seat.
Ted Karl Faupel of Alberta is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.