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Old 25-02-2016, 18:40   #31
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

Ex Coastie here. I have conducted hundreds of boardings and have never inspected a head, not once. As far as my experience goes, aside from bilges, engine compartments, and holds (anywhere big enough for a lot of drugs or people), searches were plain view only. We didn't root through people's stuff. We checked documentation and safety equipment mainly on recreational vessels. Of course just like any other LE organization, some boarding teams, may be a bit more aggressive than others, that's just life.

As far as DEA, and local LE entities. Couldn't say. I would assume it works more like getting pulled over in a car.

Here is/was the relevant U.S. Codes for the CG's LE abilities.

14 USC 89(a) is where the CG gets their LE authority, this was on the back of our Miranda warning cards. Used for the "what gives you the right?" questions.

"The Coast Guard may make inquiries, examinations, inspections, searches, seizures, and arrests upon the high seas and waters over which the U.S. has jurisdiction, for the prevention, detection, and suppression of violations of the laws of the U.S. For such purposes, commissioned, warrant, and petty officers, may at anytime, go aboard any vessel subject to the jurisdiction or to the operation of any law of the U.S., address inquiries to those on board, examine the ship's documents and papers, and examine, inspect, and search the vessel, and use all necessary force to compel compliance."

14 USC 2

"The Coast Guard shall enforce or assist in the enforcement of all applicable Federal laws on, under, and over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."

14 USC 143 AND 19 USC 1401(i)

"Commissioned, warrant, and petty officers of the Coast Guard are deemed to be Officers of the Customs and when so acting, shall insofar as performance of the duties relating to Customs laws are concerned, be subject to regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury governing officers of the Customs."

14 USC 141 - This may be where "head" inspections come from, to assist state/local enforcement?

"The Coast Guard may, when so requested by proper authority, utilize it's personnel and facilities to assist any Federal agency, state, territory, possession, or political subdivision thereof, or the District of Colombia to perform any activity, for which such personnel and facilities are especially qualified."

19 USC 1589(a)

"Grants Customs officers general LE authority to:
1. Carry a firearm
2. Execute and serve any order, warrant, subpoena, summons or other process issued under the authority of the U.S.
3. Make an arrest without warrant for any offense against the U.S. committed in the officer's presence or for a felony committed outside the officer's presence if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony; and
4. Perform any other LE duty that the Secretary of the Treasury may designate."

33 USC 1226

"Provides authority for the Coast Guard to take actions to prevent or respond to an act of terrorism against an individual, vessel or public commercial structure, that is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and located within or adjacent to the marine environment or a vessel of the United States or an individual on board that vessel. Such actions to prevent or respond to acts of terrorism include, but are not limited to:
1. Inspections
2. Port and harbor patrols
3. Establishment of security and safety zones
4. Development of contingency plans and procedures
The statue also expressly authorizes the Coast Guard to dispatch properly trained and qualified armed CG personnel on vessels and public or commercial structures on or adjacent to waters subject to the U.S. jurisdiction to deter or respond to acts of terrorism or transportation security incidents."

19 USC 1581(a)

"Authorizes Customs officers to:
1. Board vessels
2. Examine the documents aboard
3. Conduct seizures
4. Make seizures
5. Make arrests
6. Enforce customs laws of the U.S."
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Old 25-02-2016, 19:09   #32
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by sailnow2011 View Post
If your are documented in America, they could board you on a Chinese inland lake.
No they couldn't. You can't expose Federal workers to the filthy polution of Chinese inland waterways.

I know. I went up the Yangzi for 7 days. I can still smell it.
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Old 25-02-2016, 19:14   #33
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
Well not entirely correct...the USCG even has limited or no jurisdiction for much of their oversight even in lakes wholly contained within a state of the USA.

There is a balance of federal jurisdiction on navigable waters with interstate commerce.

I can't quote it all here but loo it up...lakes wholly contained within a state and federal jurisdiction.

But you are correct in that US vessels are subject to US law anywhere in the world...but that gets really complicated to exactly what.
I think you may be wrong about this. While a body of water wholly contained in a single state is not federally controlled thus doesn't have a CG presence, it's still U.S. jurisdiction and federal laws apply. As 14 USC 89 states, "[may] go aboard any vessel subject to the jurisdiction or to the operation of any law of the U.S". So as long as a single federal law is enforceable, the CG may board. It's how I read it at least.

How it was broken down to me
* Any vessel in US waters*
* Any US documented/numbered vessel. Anywhere.
* Any vessel owned in whole or part by a US citizen. Anywhere.
* Any foreign flagged vessel in foreign or international waters with a "Statement of no objection" or agreement from the vessels flagged country.


*Also, "waters subject to United States jurisdiction." This phrase encompasses more than United States territorial waters; it also extends to those waters where the United States, pursuant to an agreement with a foreign government, has been authorized to take law enforcement action involving United States or foreign vessels. Such waters could, and in actual practice do, include foreign territorial waters. See: Piracy patrol, middle east harbor security, LEDETS (LE detachments on Naval vessels), etc.
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Old 25-02-2016, 20:14   #34
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

As a Libertarian, I strongly oppose anyone from the government to do a search without probable cause or a safety search; but I look at it from a realistic perspective. I have to either accept it, or don't buy a boat.
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Old 25-02-2016, 20:24   #35
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by lindabarzini View Post
As a Libertarian, I strongly oppose anyone from the government to do a search without probable cause or a safety search; but I look at it from a realistic perspective. I have to either accept it, or don't buy a boat.
In 12+ years, we've been boarded 3 times. USCG, CBP, NPS (National Park Service).

None were a bad experience.

I wouldn't let a possible boarding stop me from the joy of cruising.
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Old 25-02-2016, 20:54   #36
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

I really don't understand how a boat is any different than a car. I mean, I understand the maritime law is different, but I don't think that should apply to pleasure boats in this regard.

If you are not on your boat (or if you are) and your boat is locked up can they just break the lock for no reason and conduct a safety inspection, or just search without probable cause?
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Old 25-02-2016, 20:59   #37
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post

However, I agree that the potty patrol is often just an excuse to search see inside your boat without a warrant.

In my potty police stop, this was not the case.

They went straight to the head, past a tactical shotgun and flushed the dye.

They wrote me a ticket (despite the fact that I had a full pee jug on deck i was using due to fhe head not working properly on a new to me boat), then quickly went back to the little canal they hid in to await the next boat.

They had no interest in a search.

Just the dye pack test.
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Old 25-02-2016, 21:08   #38
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by cruisersfarm View Post
In my potty police stop, this was not the case.

They went straight to the head, past a tactical shotgun and flushed the dye.

They wrote me a ticket (despite the fact that I had a full pee jug on deck i was using due to fhe head not working properly on a new to me boat), then quickly went back to the little canal they hid in to await the next boat.

They had no interest in a search.

Just the dye pack test.

If I can ask, where were you stopped?

So how come the ticket if your head wasn't working? Did it work enough that dye showed in the water outside the boat?
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Old 25-02-2016, 21:45   #39
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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The USCG and Customs and Border Patrol have an absolute right to board your vessel. The DEA is under the justice department and do not have a right to board your boat without probable cause or a search warrant. That being said they have big guns and usually refuse to identify themselves from what I've heard, though I have never been boarded by the DEA myself. Technically I suppose if they do that they have committed piracy and kidnapping at the very least. In the stories I have heard they wore masks, gloves and no identifying markings so who are you going to charge? Welcome to Nazi America.
Pretty much my experience....suffice it to say not at liberty to discuss here. I do have an opinion I discuss in person.

I saw many boats in the '70's getting the *hole treatment* from the aed guys after being hauled out. Even the *suspicion* of something not right got a boat hauled and drilled, uh, I mean, 'searched'.

None of my own boats since I run a clean ship.
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Old 25-02-2016, 22:42   #40
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by lindabarzini View Post
Do local police actually board vessels to verify the marine head is in compliance? I hate the concept of having no rights, but with the history of drug running, I can live with it, but violating someone's privacy and boarding a vessel to inspect the head seems like a bit of a government overreach.
In Florida, it's the law, and FWC will enforce it rigorously. Your head can't leak, and your Y valve needs to be properly restrained. A zip tie I use was deemed OK by the FWC guys who docked a few berths down from me last year, and I asked them to inspect, telling them I didn't want to do that out on the water. They did the courtesy inspection.

Florida is pretty rigid about pollution from your boat. Be careful with fuel spillage also; that can cost you an arm and a leg. Many fueling stations will hand you the nozzle so you, not they, become liable for spillage.
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Old 25-02-2016, 22:44   #41
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

Moderator note:

Keep the political comments off this thread. If in doubt, read our rules. Some posts have been deleted.
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Old 26-02-2016, 08:44   #42
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by lindabarzini View Post
As a Libertarian, I strongly oppose anyone from the government to do a search without probable cause or a safety search; but I look at it from a realistic perspective. I have to either accept it, or don't buy a boat.
Keep in mind that USCG warrant less searches date back to the first Congress. I think it was the second or third law ever passed in our country. The primary purpose of which is to inspect vessels for smuggling and ensure import tarrifs are paid. This isn't new, or a recent government expansion, but litterly as old as the country.

It could be argued, and I would agree that the law needs to change when dealing with recreational vessels (there were almost no private yachts in the 1700's) but that is a different conversation.
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Old 28-02-2016, 10:05   #43
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

I have had pleasant and very unpleasant boardings where I had to use all my power not to freak out because I knew they would crush me. I work with an ex coastie and asked him about swap tests I watched on a you tube video. If you have a chance watch it. The boat has a video blog of their travels, I believe it is Sailing Wolf or Sea wolf on you tube. It will come up as Coast Guard stop of S/V Sea Wolf. My Grandfather was a Cop, lots of my friends are police, like I said I work with an ex Coastie, but when you watch this video you get mad. Stop a sailboat off Columbia in the middle of the night under sail. Obviously not trouble makers. Wake up a sick older lady below and swab all of them for drugs. So silly. Even the CG guys were getting pissed at the captain on the cutter. That aside were all glad they are their, but some common sense would be appreciated. I get more pissed when they grab your life lines, bend your stanchions and chip your paint with their combat boots. Yeah thanks for the inspections and absolutely no respect for my boat. Have fun claiming damages from the CG. The head checks I agree with. Nothing like swimming in the water in an anchorage and having someone flush a pile of crap out of his boat. Very easy to bust people in The BVI. First time I was like why are all of those fish attacking that guys boat. So Gross. Beautiful bay by Willy T and I was just swimming a minute before. So nice to know people were flushing crap right next to me. I'm all for Zip tie / dye inspections, just with some common sense and courtesy. We all have to remember that you may want to throw them off your boat at times, but if they ever saved your ass in a storm, you would thank God for them risking their lives. Bad Apples suck.
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Old 28-02-2016, 10:21   #44
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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If I can ask, where were you stopped?

So how come the ticket if your head wasn't working? Did it work enough that dye showed in the water outside the boat?
Sure.

New Symernia Beach, FL

Boat was new to me and had plumbing issues. Can't recall exactly what. Leak, I think.

So, I was using the other head and a pee jug single handing. They were able to get dye through the unused head.

I got a ticket and they jumped off, racing back to their hiding spot in a little canal/creek.
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Old 29-02-2016, 09:58   #45
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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As a Libertarian, I strongly oppose anyone from the government to do a search without probable cause or a safety search; but I look at it from a realistic perspective. I have to either accept it, or don't buy a boat.
Go learn about maritime law already...you'll be changing your tune of wanting those LEO when you get hijacked by pirates after you get raped, plundered and pillaged..but it'll be too late then right...
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