Canadian found on sailboat with jugs of meth pleads guilty to drug charge
John Philip Stirling was arrested after his boat was seized off the Oregon coast on April 9, 2019. (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)
TORONTO -- A Canadian man who was found on a sailboat off Oregon filled with 28 jugs of liquid methamphetamine last April has pleaded guilty to a drug charge.
The 65-year-old man pleaded guilty with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend John Philip Stirling serve 87 months -- or a little more than seven years -- in prison.
Stirling also agreed to forfeit his sailboat, the Mandalay, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Oregon.
On April, 9, 2019, he had been spotted on his sailboat 416 nautical kilometres off of Newport, Ore., according to court documents.
"When (U.S.) Coast Guard personnel attempted to communicate with Stirling, he went below deck and would only respond via VHF radio," prosecutors said. Officials then boarded the vessel after it was determined to be sailing in U.S. waters.
According to court documents, Stirling said he didn’t have documentation for the vessel and refused to produce any identification to officials. “Upon further questioning, Sterling’s speech began to deteriorate and he displayed signs of a possible drug overdose,” the release stated.
After U.S. Coast Guard personnel gave him medical aid, he was taken by helicopter to Astoria, Ore., and eventually moved to a hospital. During a subsequent search of the Mandalay, officials found the 28 approximately 26-litre jugs of liquid methamphetamine.
Under the U.S Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, Stirling faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a US$10 million fine.
He is scheduled for sentencing in April, 2020.