John Stirling, Canadian Busted With 800 Lbs of Coke, Tells FBI "There's Nothing Wrong With Cocaine Trafficking"

Categories: Crime
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cocainebricks.jpg
A tip for all you would-be cocaine kingpins: When the FBI catches you off the coast of Colombia with more than 800 pounds of yeyo stashed in your boat, do not argue that "there is nothing wrong with cocaine trafficking." That's exactly the tact John Philip Stirling, a 60-year-old Canadian captain, tried last week and now he's in federal custody in Miami awaiting multiple drug charges.

Stirling -- a notorious Vancouver smuggler once caught with $300 million in coke off the coast near Washington -- was busted in the Caribbean hiding 358 packets of cocaine aboard his 64-foot yacht, Atlantis V.

On Oct. 17, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter spotted the Atlantis V in international waters more than 300 miles from Colombia, according to a federal complaint (which we've embedded below.)

The next day, while the Coast Guard was awaiting permission from Canadian authorities to board, an Italian crew member jumped ship and was fished from the sea by the American sailors.

The deserter, named Luigi Barbaro, said he'd leapt into the Caribbean because the yacht was packed with narcotics and he "feared for his life" as Stirling's crew prepared to sink the boat.

Hours later, the coast guard got permission to board and, using a scanner, quickly found the 358 packages of coke stored behind freshly caulked wooden shelves and panels. They arrested Stirling along with two other Canadians, Thomas Henderson and Randy Theriault, and a Colombian, Jose Manuel Calvo Herrera.

While all the other men invoked their right to an attorney, Stirling decided to sway FBI agents onboard the Coast Guard ship with pure reason. Here's what he had to say, according to the complaint:
Stirling remarked that there was nothing wrong with cocaine trafficking and that the United States should mind its own business. He further remarked that if Canada didn't have such high taxes, they could get legitimate jobs.
Stirling later admitted he knew about the drugs and planned to sail to Australia to unload them.

This isn't the captain's first dance with drug authorities. In 2001, according to the Vancouver Sun, he was caught in the Straight of Juan de Fuca north of Seattle with more than 2.5 tons of cocaine onboard his ship.

Since he was in Canadian waters, the U.S. agents turned him over to the Canucks, who apparently never charged him.

In 2006, he was busted again when $6.5 million in pot was found on a fishing vessel he owned near Vancouver Island. Again, charges were dropped.

So maybe Stirling does know a thing or two about sweet talking his way out of trouble. Our bet is that tact doesn't work so well in Miami federal court, though.

Here's the complaint:

Stirling Complaint

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Then there is John’s wife Marlene. She is dumber than a sack of hammers. Beau is also stupider than a mud fence. You can’t even have an intelligent conversation with him. He is burnt out from all the drugs he has done. They all deserve each other. None of them work; all they do is live off of everyone’s money.Now that he is in jail, Beau and Marlene have taken over the family business and are dealing cocaine and other drugs. I talked to my cop friend and he told me that one of Beau’s friends got popped awhile back and is flipping on them.He is wearing a wire and is collecting evidence and the cops are building a case against the two. Well if Stirling is transferred to Canada then maybe the whole family can share a cell.


I can tell you a couple stories about the Stirling family. I live in Victoria, the same city as them and know the whole family pretty well.John Stirling’s son, Beau Stirling, was in a car accident a few years ago where he killed 2 people. As soon as he was released from the hospital he and a bunch of his friends went to the beach and partied for a few days. Just shows how much remorse he had for the two people he just killed. At first he tried to blame one of the kids that died in the accident and said he was driving. Then he changed his story and blamed the other survivor. Then he changed his story yet again said he might have been the driver but he doesn’t remember. Then there is John Stirling. He ripped off a couple people I know personally. He borrowed money from them and refused to pay them back. He threatens people and is nothing but a bully. But he ripped off and burnt a couple heavy hitters that are looking for him. So he is safer in jail because he has a price on his head. Same with his son, heard there are a couple people looking for him as well. He is also being looked at for death of a young boy that got into Stirling’s vehicle with $50K and neither was ever been seen again.


Give your head a shake. Do you really think this clown was let go from Canadian authorities because he sweet talked them. There is much more to this story than the article suggests.


It's a shame he's not a Miami police officer; the Fraternal Order of Police would back him up, and chastise the FBI for hassling an off-duty officer simply trying to make an extra buck.


It seems that if the vessel was Canadian-flagged and the cargo was indeed bound for Australia, then perhaps USA has absolutely no jurisdiction.  Based on past experiences, even in a USA federal court on a previous occasion, I expect Mr. Stirling is counting on that.


You are so right.......... like the fact that they sailed the suspects around in zodiacs for 2 days in Guantanamo Bay while the USA and Canada debated what to do with them.  The Mounties "Can we get our MAN this time?"  Peter MacKay: "But doesn't that informant agreement still apply?".... "ah, yes, that is right... only chance to send off to USA and hope nobody notices".  ...... (Beware, USA / Mounties will likely need to plant evidence to make these charges stick because Phil is too smart for them.)


Margaret, the Canadian authorities granted jurisdiction to the Coast Guard, under one of many treaties that exist to end drug trafficking.


That can only apply to certain heineous crime like the slave trade, maybe a few others with permission from the flag-flying country for something called universal jurisdiction. I am quite sure it does not apply to drug trafficking.  Please research, and you will find that Mr. Stirling already beat this same charge in the USA under similar circumstances meaning the USA could not make that criminal connection to the USA which is necessary under protective jurisdiction.   

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault