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Old 06-05-2010, 18:11   #1
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Checking for Drugs

Bought an old boat. I believe I'm the third owner. \

During cleaning, I found some rolling papers. My concern is that somebody might have left something else behind. Then, when crossing the border, I get stopped and 'sniffed' and they find drugs. "Honest sir, they were left by the previous owner". Right.

So, can I get a 'courtesy' inspection? Without liability?
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Old 06-05-2010, 18:18   #2
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We used to be able to do this with our local PD and I think SP/LE when I was in uniform. Call the non-emergency number. Doesn't hurt to ask and it's free.
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Old 06-05-2010, 20:46   #3
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A friend in the DEA told me that the only way to "clean" the boat is to wipe down all the walls and interiors of cabinets and drawers with a mixture of ammonia and soapy water. You have to get everywhere you can possibly reach. Traces of illegal drugs permeate the air and settle on surfaces inside the boat. The common technique by USCG cutters is to board and then wipe down all over the boat and inside drawers with little cotton balls. They place the cotton balls in a zip lock baggies and then take them back to the USCG Cutter to feed into the G-C machine which will vaporize them and read out if any signatures of illegal substances that are present. Supposedly this technique can find illegal substances as much as a year back.
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:56   #4
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I've owned the boat 2 years now plus I doubt the previous owner was a drug user, so that clears the air back 8 or more years. I'm concerned about the long forgotten bag of weed stashed somewhere I haven't looked.
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Old 07-05-2010, 05:29   #5
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About 10 years ago I was crew on this guys boat and imbicile son decided it would be a great idea to smoke dope INSIDE the boat in the HEAD!!!!!!!!!!

I found out when I got up in the middle of the night to use said head and saw a roach floating in the dunny water along with more than a whiff of stash!

If the cops had found out the boat could have been seized etc.

I didn't want to tell the father because I had had a man-to-peanut talk to the son, but every new country we went into I wondered if some drug dof, or swab would start howling of beeping.



I'd pop down to the local police station and explian the situation as see if they can lend you Fido for an hour


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Old 07-05-2010, 05:46   #6
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I think you're going over the top a bit, yes, traces may be found, but to impound the boat they would have to find an actual quantity of it.. "Smelling" of drugs is not good enough, although it would most likely motivate them to take everything apart. Same applies at airports by the way.

Don't get paranoid
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Old 07-05-2010, 05:58   #7
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Just be careful who you ask for help "sniffing" the boat. If you are not known and personal friends with the local officers they might just use you for some PR about a "major drug dealer bust" instead of helping you. It best if you have a friend with the DEA or have a friend of a friend who can vouch for you and your intent. Otherwise, hire somebody to use the ammonia and soapy water to wash all of the interior of the boat including cabinets, drawers, bulkheads and overhead.
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Old 07-05-2010, 05:59   #8
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In this situation a bit of paranoia may be warranted. Not sure if it is still the case but in the past the USCG had a zero tolerance policy towards drugs, meaning a single seed or roach was sufficient to confiscate a boat. Read of several cases where this happened.

Even if the USCG is no longer maintaining this policy some local law enforcement agencies do. Be careful if you happen to sail through Arizona.

If you don't have any luck finding a way to check your boat for any hidden stash I have a brother-in-law that would be happy to help, no charge.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:08   #9
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Quote:
Not sure if it is still the case but in the past the USCG had a zero tolerance policy towards drugs
I don't think the seed or roach evidence will hold up in court. Note that seed is legal to have in Europe, I suppose my assessment should have been qualified by "US notwithstanding" considering the war on drugs craze over at that end of the pond..
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:19   #10
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Originally Posted by idpnd View Post
I think you're going over the top a bit, yes, traces may be found, but to impound the boat they would have to find an actual quantity of it.. "Smelling" of drugs is not good enough, although it would most likely motivate them to take everything apart. Same applies at airports by the way.

Don't get paranoid
Correct. "Smelling" will not get a conviction. However, it is probable cause to do a more in depth search of your vessel. This entails whatever the agency on-scene deems necessary (i.e. partial to complete removal of interior components. Notice I said removal, not disassembly).

Is this a risk you're willing to take? Find someone local to run the dog through the boat and show them the paperwork that you just bought it. Good faith goes a long way.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:20   #11
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The point the OP is hopefully asking is how to "check" the boat without getting into serious or complicated trouble. Whether something "holds up in court" or not is more a matter of how many thousands of dollars you have to pay the lawyers to get your butt out of jail. Drugs is a "hot-button" item with US officials and they have been known to "take advantage" of an innocent to make headlines for themselves especially if they have been publicly embarrassed in the past for messing up a real drug bust.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:25   #12
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However, it is probable cause to do a more in depth search of your vessel. This entails whatever the agency on-scene deems necessary (i.e. partial to complete removal of interior components. Notice I said removal, not disassembly).
If they destroy the interior and don't find anything, are they liable for damage?
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:30   #13
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That is up to a judge, assuming your lawyer has the stones to challenge a legal search based on probable cause. Are you starting to see why it's a better idea to be safe from the beginning?

Osiris if you live in a place where the local PD would rather pin medals on each other than do the job they are paid to do, perhaps you should consider moving. I did.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:48   #14
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First, scrubbing the boat with bleach will do nothing for the BAG of weed hidden in some corner. There's been no dope smoked in at least 2 years, probably much more.

Second, moving to somewhere is nonsense. Many, Many countries around the world and local govts have dope dogs and the right to use them. I want to be proactive and avoid the problem altogether.

Third, it is extremely hard to get reembursement for damage done for a search, especially if they find something.

So the point of all this is to avoid significant hassles that WOULD happen if a dope dog found something entering or leaving a country. I am concerned that I'd get an "oh sure, we'll help out" followed by "come with us, you're under arrest".
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:53   #15
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I am concerned that I'd get an "oh sure, we'll help out" followed by "come with us, you're under arrest".
Which is what I got in Brevard County, FL in 1981 when I asked to have a car I just bought checked out. And that is partly why I live in central Maryland now. I can get by just fine under the rules of the "good ol' boy" network, I simply choose not to. Not everyone, everywhere is out to make a bust just for the stats.
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