Nearly six weeks ago, when federal agents intercepted the 79-foot sailboat Sarah Moira heading to the U.S. from Jamaica, they scored a major international drug bust — seizing the boat's cargo of 4,497 pounds of marijuana and arresting the captain and his crew.
Local police are now revealing that the trail to this $8.1 million pot bust began some 1,500 miles away, in Dartmouth.
The captain of the vessel and the target of a federal probe is 58-year-old James Ormonde Staveley-O'Carroll, a shipbuilder and self-described firebrand liberal, whose daughter, Sarah, is married to Michael K. Matthews, the son of MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews.
Staveley-O'Carroll is the owner of the Sarah Moira, a steel-hulled sailing vessel, which a task force of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents intercepted on Nov. 21 off the coast of Bay St. Louis, Miss.
The boat was taken to the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Gulfport, Miss., where drug-sniffing dogs found two wooden crates, filled with individually wrapped packages of marijuana, in a forward compartment, according to a federal affidavit in support of the charges.
Staveley-O'Carroll and co-defendants J. Boone Ferrie, 20, and Brian Parker, 27, both of Attleboro, are charged with conspiracy to possess controlled substance with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import controlled substance with intent to distribute, possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute and importation of controlled substance with intent to distribute.
The three men are scheduled to go to trial Feb. 14 in U.S. District Court in Gulfport before Judge Louis Guirola Jr., following their indictment on Dec. 7, according to Sheila Wilbanks, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Mississippi. (Continues here)