Coast Guard seizes sailboat full of liquid meth jugs off Oregon coast

A Canadian man is facing federal charges after the crew of a Coast Guard cutter searched his sailboat.

Posted: Apr 11, 2019 2:51 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2019 4:18 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Canadian man now faces federal charges after the crew of a Coast Guard cutter caught him sailing north along the Oregon coast in a boat containing gallons of liquid methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon.

According to court documents, the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alert came across 65-year-old John Phillip Stirling, a Canadian citizen, in a sailboat heading north about 225 nautical miles from Newport, Oregon. Stirling's vessel, the Mandalay, reportedly had its home port in Seattle and sported visible U.S. registration numbers.

"When Coast Guard personnel attempted to communicate with Stirling, he went below deck and would only respond via VHF radio," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Having determined that Stirling's boat was a U.S.-flagged vessel, the USCG crew boarded it — finding Stirling aboard, alone.

"Stirling stated he did not have vessel documentation and refused to produce identification. Upon further questioning, Sterling’s speech began to deteriorate and he displayed signs of a possible drug overdose," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

A 2013 article from the Vancouver Sun in British Columbia indicates that this may not be Stirling's first brush with high seas drug-running charges . . . see also this 2011 article from the Seattle Times.

Coast Guard personnel gave Stirling emergency aid before evacuating him to Astoria by helicopter. He would later be brought by ambulance to Adventist Health Portland for additional treatment.

Searching Stirling's vessel, the Coast Guard found 28 seven-gallon jugs of liquid meth aboard, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Stirling appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman in federal court on Thursday, and was ordered detained pending trial.

"A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

The case remains under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

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