US Coast Guard detains Canadian national for drug trafficking at sea

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Michael Cornelius
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Michael Cornelius – USCGC Alert

A criminal complaint has been filed in a US federal court alleging a Canadian citizen with illegal possession of methamphetamine and intent to distribute aboard a US-flagged vessel.

According to court documents, while on a routine patrol, the crew of the US Coast Guard cutter Alert (pictured) detected a sailing vessel traveling north 225 nautical miles from Newport, Oregon, on April 9, 2019. The vessel, named Mandalay, had a home port of Seattle, Washington, and visible US registration numbers.

When coast guard personnel attempted to communicate with Mandalay’s captain and owner, who was later identified as 65-year-old Canadian national John Phillip Stirling, he went below deck and would only respond via VHF radio.

Once coast guard personnel determined Mandalay was a US-flagged vessel, they boarded and found Stirling to be the vessel’s sole occupant.

Stirling stated he did not have vessel documentation and refused to produce identification.

Upon further questioning by coast guard personnel, Stirling’s speech began to deteriorate and he displayed signs of a possible drug overdose.

Coast guard personnel administered medical aid to Stirling and evacuated him by helicopter to Astoria, Oregon. He was later transferred by ambulance to Portland for additional treatment.

Coast guard personnel conducted a search of Mandalay and discovered 28 jugs containing liquid methamphetamine.

Stirling made an initial appearance in federal court on Thursday, April 11. He was ordered detained pending trial.

The case is being investigated by the US Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

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