John Stirling, Captain Caught With 800 Lbs Of Coke, Took Photos Atop Giant Piles of Cash

​Sure, John Philip Stirling may be Canadian, but he's also the most Miami-flavored drug smuggler to land in local federal court since the heyday of the Cocaine Cowboys. When he was caught at sea last week off Colombia with 800 pounds of coke, the good captain flat-out told the feds: "There's nothing wrong with cocaine smuggling."

Now comes news from his native Vancouver that shortly before his arrest, Stirling brazenly sent his neighbor -- a disabled dwarf to whom he owed thousands -- photos of himself lounging around atop giant piles of drug money.

Let's just say it now. Riptide would never approve of massive cocaine trafficking operations, but dammit, we like the cut of this fella's jib.

In an ongoing B.C. civil case, Stirling's neighbors claims the drug captain taunted them with photos of his immense trafficking hauls and videos threatening to shoot his enemies.

The neighbor, Shawn Martin -- who is often confined to a wheelchair by his dwarfism -- and his mother, Myrna Beckman, say Stirling refused to repay them $30,000 in loans even as he was arranging massive coke deals.

Stirling actually sued the neighbors first, in August, claiming amazingly that the dwarf and his 63-year-old mom were "threatening" him by sending "Hell's Angels" to his home. He asked for $10 million.

Around the same time, the Sun reports, Stirling bragged that he'd just come back from Colombia with $200,000 cash stuffed into suitcases. When Martin reasonably asked if he could get his loan back, Stirling instead emailed a photo of himself lying on all the cash like it was a bearskin rug.

"I told you if you waited you would have got paid, but since you didn't, you will never receive a dime and everyone else has been paid back for their investment but you," Stirling wrote, according to court documents.

Martin says he's also got a videotape of Stirling threatening to shoot people and that before he was arrested last week, the captain he threatened to burn down his house.

That won't be a huge danger now -- Stirling faces multiple federal drug smuggling counts in Miami federal court.

The captain was a local legend up in British Columbia long before his latest clashes with Miami-based federal agents, though. 

In 2001, the swarthy-looking 60-year-old -- a beer-gutted, mustache-wearing mariner -- was caught north of Seattle in his boat, the Western Wind, which was laden with an amazing two-and-a-half tons of coke. The cocaine was "labeled 'Colombia' and wrapped in sugar sacks," the Vancouver Sun reported -- yet Canadian prosecutors never charged Stirling. (Gotta love that Canuck justice system.)

Then, in 2006, Stirling again got popped, this time for $6.5 million of pot. Again, charges were dropped. The most time Stirling ever served was five years in the early '90s, the Sun writes.

That's likely to change now that he's spending his days in the Miami Federal Detention Center. The next hearing in his case is set for Dec. 7.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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