April 12, 2019 – Less than a year after B.C. skipper John Stirling was released from a U.S. prison where he served seven years for cocaine smuggling, the controversial sea captain is back behind bars. Stirling, 65, was arrested off the Oregon coast April 9 on a sailing vessel allegedly carrying 28 seven-gallon jugs containing liquid methamphetamine. Photo: Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office [PNG Merlin Archive]
B.C. skipper John Philip Stirling was supposed to go to trial later his month on his latest set of charges related to transporting drugs on the high seas.But his lawyer Lisa Hay filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Portland requesting that the trial be delayed until mid-November.She said in her court filings that the U.S. Attorney’s office does not oppose the delay.Stirling, 65, was in court Thursday as a new superseding indictment was read. He pleaded not guilty.Hay noted that the case against her client is not more complex.When he was arrested on a boat off the Oregon coast last April, Stirling was only charged with two counts: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine while upon the high seas; and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine while upon the high seas.But Hay said that the new indictment has additional charges including “one additional count each of conspiracy to distribute pentobarbital while upon the high seas and possession with intent to distribute pentobarbital on while upon the high seas.”The public defender said Stirling’s legal team needs “adequate time to review the new charges, to receive and review additional discovery materials, to meet with Mr. Stirling to review and discuss those materials, and otherwise to prepare for trial.”I have covered Stirling and his various criminal cases for several years now. He had only been out of prison a year when he was arrested in 2019.In 2013, he was sentenced to seven and a half years after being arrested off the coast of Colombia on another vessel with 381 kilograms of cocaine bound for Australia.And twice he has been arrested closer to home on boats laden with illicit drugs, though has never gone to trial in either case.