Email to drug and gun sailor: "Don't throw anything in the water yet."

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  • Latvian sailor Janis Zegelis was arrested after $48 million of cocaine was found on his yacht which stopped in Bermuda for repairs. He is now on trial at Supreme Court. A gun and 192 rounds of ammunition were also found.
(Photo by Akil Simmons)

    Latvian sailor Janis Zegelis was arrested after $48 million of cocaine was found on his yacht which stopped in Bermuda for repairs. He is now on trial at Supreme Court. A gun and 192 rounds of ammunition were also found. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

Alleged gun-and-drug importing sailor Janis Zegelis e-mailed — apparently with his mother — about throwing bags and an “iron toy” overboard before his boat arrived in Bermuda.

Supreme Court heard yesterday about messages sent to and from the accused sailor as he prepared to make an emergency stop for repairs to his stricken vessel, Arturs.

The person he wrote to was named Daina Zegele. The court heard from a Latvian translator that Zegele is the female version of the surname Zegelis.

Referring to the sailor as “son dear” in the e-mails, Ms Zegele told him at one point: “Keep all you have. Don’t throw anything in the water yet. Everything will go smoothly.”

Mr Zegelis, 29, from Salacyriva, Latvia, was arrested on August 1, 2011 after Customs raided his yacht, which was moored in St George’s. They found $48 million worth of cocaine, a Beretta semi-automatic pistol and 192 bullets.

Mr Zegelis told police he had to make an emergency stop for repairs because the mast of his 38-foot sloop got broken in bad weather. He said the contraband was never supposed to enter Bermuda, as he planned to sail directly from Trinidad to his home country in Eastern Europe. He is now on trial accused of importing and possessing the gun, drugs and ammunition.

Yesterday, the jury heard from professional Latvian language interpreter Iluta Fitzsimmons. She translated e-mails to and from Mr Zeglis on Arturs and Ms Zegele.

Interpreter Ms Fitzsimmons read a string of e-mails between Mr Zegelis and Ms Zegele, during which they debated what to do with “bags” and “sausages” on the boat.

Ms Zegele wrote to him on July 20: “Don’t call the Coastguard yet.”

She later wrote: “Don’t throw the bags yet. What will you do with the aid crew? The forecast coming soon.”

Mr Zegelis wrote the next day: “Plan to go in with the sausages and if someone says anything will pretend a victim. All in all am in good spirit.”

Ms Zegele replied by telling him: “Keep the bags on the ship.”

Mr Zegelis told her: “I’m OK. Want to know what to do with the sausages and then send me description and forecast.”

He went on to ask several more times during the course of July 21 what she wanted him to do with the sausages and whether he should keep them or throw them away.

“So I go in with the sausages and the iron toy, OK?” he asked at one point.

She e-mailed back: “Son dear, take the sausages.”

In answer to a follow-up question from Mr Zegelis she wrote: “Keep the sausages when you moor the ship. Take a good look at it and you MUST NOT leave anyone on board, not for a single moment, without your permission.”

A subsequent e-mail from her said: “Please don’t throw ANYTHING in the water. I mean the sausages and the toy.” She also advised: “Lock the ship when you go out.”

Earlier in the trial, prosecutor Cindy Clarke asked officers who searched the ship whether they found any sausages along with the contraband. They confirmed that they did not.

The jury has previously heard that Mr Zegelis told Customs officer Addison Tucker that he visited his mother in the Dominican Republic before going to Trinidad, where he allegedly picked up the cocaine, before coming to Bermuda.

The jury has also heard how Ms Zegele wired hundreds of dollars to Mr Zegelis from the Dominican Republic via Western Union while he was moored in St George’s.

Further evidence yesterday came from Acting Detective Inspector Haydn Small, a drug expert from the narcotics unit who examined the cocaine.

He told the jury that the street value in Bermuda would be $48.3 million if sold in “halves” which are “the usable quantity” weighing 0.32 grams and sell for $125 each.

He said if the drugs were sold in ounces for $3,000 each, they would be worth $17.6 million.

He also explained that drug dealers use slang words for narcotics when they are communicating, to make it harder for the police to tell what they are talking about.

The jury also heard a statement from Trinity DNA Solutions. It said that Mr Zegelis’s DNA was found on some of the drug wrappings, mixed with the DNA of another person. None was found on the gun.

Mr Zegelis denies the charges against him and the case continues.

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Published Jun 5, 2012 at 8:07 am (Updated Jun 5, 2012 at 8:06 am)

Email to drug and gun sailor: "Don't throw anything in the water yet."

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