ASTORIA, OR (KPTV) – A man arrested off the Oregon coast while on a sailboat containing gallons of liquid meth was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison on Thursday and five years of supervised release.
John Philip Stirling, 65, from Canada, previously pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act.
Stirling was arrested in April 2019 while traveling north about 250 nautical miles from Newport in international waters, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The vessel, named Mandalay, had a home port of Seattle. When Coast Guard officials tried to communicate with Stirling, they say he went below deck and would only respond through VHF radio.
Coast Guard personnel confirmed the Mandalay was a U.S. flagged vessel, boarded, and found Stirling alone on the sailboat. They say he did not have vessel documentation and refused to produce identification.
Upon questioning, officials said Stirling’s speech began to deteriorate and he displayed signs of a possible drug overdose.
Shortly before Coast Guard personnel boarded the vessel, Stirling consumed a large amount of what he believed to be pure fentanyl, but was later determined to be pentobarbital, according to investigators.
Coast Guard personnel administered medical aid to Stirling and evacuated him by helicopter to Astoria, Oregon. He was later transported by ambulance to Adventist Health Portland for additional treatment.
Officials later searched the Mandalay and found 28 seven-gallon jugs containing liquid methamphetamine. They also found a duffel bag containing several plastic-wrapped bricks of pentobarbital. Investigators later learned the drugs had been loaded onto the Mandalay from another vessel in the Sea of Cortez for delivery to Canada.
“The volume and value makes this the largest known maritime seizure by the Coast Guard off the Oregon coast, and we applaud the men and women of the Coast Guard Cutter Alert for their diligence in making the apprehension,” Scott McGrew, of the Coast Guard 13th District in Seattle, said.
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