Canadian citizen sentenced to jail for smuggling methamphetamine on sailboat


Astoria based cutter alert (USCG file image)

Posted on May 22, 2020 at 7:51 PM by

The maritime executive

A senior from Canada was sentenced to 40 months in a US federal prison for transporting commercial quantities of methamphetamine at sea.

According to court documents, on April 9, 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard Alert detected a sailboat traveling north from Mexico to Canada, approximately 225 nautical miles off Newport, Oregon, in international waters. The ship, named the Mandalay, was under the American flag and had its home port in Seattle. When Coast Guard personnel attempted to contact the operator, the operator responded only by VHF. The Alerts the crew checked that the Mandalay was under US jurisdiction and then boarded the vessel for an inspection.

The operator, 66-year-old Canadian citizen John Philip Stirling, told the Coast Guard he did not have the ship’s documents and refused to produce identification. After further questioning, his speech began to deteriorate and he showed signs of a possible drug overdose, prosecutors said. Shortly before Coast Guard personnel boarded the ship, Stirling consumed a large amount of what he believed to be pure fentanyl – an action with a high probability of death. (It was later determined to be pentobarbital, a sedative). The Alerts the crew provided medical assistance to Stirling and evacuated him by helicopter to Astoria, Oregon.

Stirling, who has a long record of criminal convictions, was recently released from a US federal prison after a 90-month sentence for smuggling. During medical treatment, he allegedly told a nurse that he was a drug dealer and claimed to have used fentanyl.

The Mandalay was towed to port and searched. Investigators found 28 seven-gallon cans of liquid methamphetamine (about 200 gallons in total) and a gym bag containing several plastic-wrapped bricks of pentobarbital. Investigators later learned that the drugs had been loaded on the Mandalay another vessel in the Sea of ​​Cortez for delivery to Canada.

In January, Stirling pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act. In a video conference appearance, he told the court he was persuaded to make the trip by cartel members after failing in an earlier smuggling attempt and losing millions of dollars of their cocaine.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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