Arrested after a huge drug bust off the U.S. coast — and this wasn’t his first time.
He’s allegedly tried to smuggle cocaine, heroin and marijuana between the U.S. and Canada by boat multiple times over three decades.
Now, a B.C. man is awaiting trial once again after authorities allegedly found gallons of liquid meth on his boat off the coast of Oregon, which prosecutors allege he intended to distribute.
The Oregon U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday that it had filed a criminal complaint against John Philip Stirling, who was arrested after his sailing vessel was discovered travelling north near Newport.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the 65-year-old refused to provide documentation after U.S. Coast Guard officials boarded his boat. They then found 28 seven-gallon jugs of liquid methamphetamine on board.
“Upon further questioning, Stirling’s speech began to deteriorate, and he displayed signs of a possible drug overdose,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Stirling was then airlifted to hospital for treatment.
He appeared in federal court in Portland, Ore., on Thursday, where the judge ordered him detained pending trial. Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service are now investigating.
According to court documents filed at that appearance, Stirling told nurses he took a “large amount” of fentanyl from one of the 10 kilograms he allegedly had on board after realizing his boat was being boarded by law enforcement but that he wasn’t trying to kill himself.
Stirling also said that he is a “drug smuggler” travelling to Canada and that he didn’t want to go to jail for the rest of his life, according to the documents.
Decades of arrests
A quick look through Stirling’s past shows that this isn’t the first time he’s been accused of smuggling drugs by boat, as he has a history of arrests stretching from B.C. to the waters off South America.
What’s more, Stirling claims to have had connections to Hells Angels and the RCMP that date back decades.
In 1989, Stirling was convicted in a cocaine smuggling conspiracy and was sentenced a year later to five years in prison.
In 2001, he popped up again after his boat, the Western Wind, was stopped by American authorities in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. American authorities said they found 2.5 tonnes of cocaine on board, which was estimated to be worth $300 million at the time.
Stirling and the four other crew members on board at the time were handed over to Canadian authorities, but the group was never charged.
Fast-forward to 2006 and Stirling was at it again, this time appearing at the centre of one of the largest drug busts in B.C. history.
In October 2011, U.S. Coast Guard officials caught Stirling captaining a sailboat Atlantis V with five other crew members just north of Colombia in the Caribbean Sea. That boat was found to have nearly 400 kilograms of cocaine on board.
B.C. skipper John “Phil” Stirling was actually trying to sell the sailboat Atlantis V at the time he was arrested in 2011
Stirling was looking for offers on the 64-foot vessel and said the original price when it was built in Vancouver in 1988 was $150,000.
Stirling is now due for a preliminary hearing in federal court in Portland on April 25 with an arraignment scheduled for May 1.
Source: Global News