A B.C. man with a long history of drug smuggling at sea has pleaded guilty in a U.S. court after his boat was raided by the U.S. Coast Guard last April.
On Monday, John Philip Stirling pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act.
Prosecutors will recommend Stirling serve a little over seven years in prison as part of a plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney for Oregon said. He also agreed to forfeit the sailboat.
Stirling, 65, was aboard the Mandalay on April 9, 2019, when it was boarded by Coast Guard officials who discovered 28 seven-gallon jugs of liquid methamphetamine.
At the time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Stirling refused to provide documentation to Coast Guard officials.
“Upon further questioning, Stirling’s speech began to deteriorate, and he displayed signs of a possible drug overdose,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said at the time.
A medic administered Narcan but was unable to revive Stirling, who was then airlifted to hospital for treatment, court documents said.
According to court documents filed at an April 2019 court appearance, Stirling told nurses he had taken a “large amount” of fentanyl. He also said he was a “drug smuggler” and he didn’t want to go to jail for the rest of his life, according to the documents.
Stirling has been accused of crimes dating back to the late 1980s. In 2013, he was sentenced to 90 months in U.S. federal prison after pleading guilty to importing cocaine.
— With files from Sean Boynton and The Associated Press