40 months in U.S. prison for drug-boat captain

B.C. drug-boat captain John (Philip) Stirling was sentenced Friday to 40 months in U.S. federal prison for smuggling meth on the high seas.

Stirling, 66, a former Metchosin resident, was arrested last April off the Oregon coast on a sailboat called the Mandalay, which wasn’t registered in either Canada or the U.S.

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The arrest came less than a year after the B.C. skipper was released from a U.S. prison after serving seven years for cocaine smuggling.

This time, American officers found 28 seven-gallon jugs of liquid meth aboard the ship, as well as a duffel bag containing several plastic-wrapped bricks of pentobarbital.

Stirling, 66, could have faced life in prison for the amount of methamphetamine he was smuggling aboard his boat.

But in January, he pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute meth under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act.

“I have carefully reviewed every part of this agreement with my attorney. I understand and voluntarily agree to its terms. I expressly waive my rights to appeal as outlined in this agreement. I wish to plead guilty because, in fact, I am guilty,” the document signed by Stirling said.

His plea deal came with a recommended sentence of 87 months in prison. Instead, the Canadian citizen faces just over three years in prison and five years of supervised release.

Last month, Stirling filed suit against the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for not doing enough to protect him from COVID-19.


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