Nova Scotia sailboat captain pleads guilty to two cocaine-related charges


HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia sailboat captain has pleaded guilty to two drug charges after 250 kilograms of cocaine were found hidden in his vessel after it pulled into a small marina two months ago.

The Canada Border Services Agency says its officers boarded the vessel at East River Marine in Hubbards, N.S., late on Sept. 3.

The agency says the Canadian-registered, 29-foot boat — called Quesera — had arrived from the small Caribbean island of Saint Martin.

Inside the vessel’s forward sleeping quarters, officers found several bricks of cocaine hidden inside a sealed bed frame, and the RCMP were called in.

Sixty-eight-year-old Jacques John Grenier of Hubbards pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and importing cocaine.

A third charge, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, will be dealt with at Grenier’s sentencing hearing on Jan. 25 in Halifax provincial court.

In the past four years, the CBSA in Atlantic Canada has recorded between 130 and 159 drug seizures every year, many of them at ports handling large shipping containers.

Finding such a large stash in a small boat is unusual, Dominic Mallette, the agency’s acting director for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, said in September.

“In terms of small vessels … something of this magnitude is extremely rare,” he said.  “It’s very difficult to be aware and monitor the sea.”

Mallette said the agency knew the boat was coming in that night, but wouldn’t say if it had been tipped off.

“I can tell you that we had an awareness and we were ready,” he said. “Anything beyond that would jeopardize our internal work.”

The RCMP confirmed it was the second significant suspected drug seizure in Nova Scotia this year. In May, about 200 kilograms of hashish was found hidden inside chocolate bars stacked in a shipping container at the Port of Halifax.

The Canadian Press