Latvian Sailor Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison

June 12, 2012

[Updated] A Latvian sailor who was convicted of possessing almost $50 million worth of cocaine, a gun and ammunition was sentenced to 25 years in prison today [June 12]. In addition, Janis Zegelis’ sailboat “Arturs” was confiscated by the Court.

File photo of Mr Zegelis leaving Court:

Judge Carlisle Greaves said he took into account the fact that the drugs were not destined for Bermuda, however at the same time wanted to send a message that Bermuda is not the place to be caught with illegal drugs, or the place to sell drugs.

Before being sentenced, the defendant apologized to the Court, and asked for leniency saying he wanted to be able to see his three young children again.

Mr Zegelis leaving Court after being sentenced today:

29-year-old Janis Zegelis sailed to Bermuda from Trinidad arriving in July 2011, and was arrested on August 1, after Customs officials searched his boat while it was docked in the St George’s area. At that time, police were seen to be searching the boat for hours, before guarding it overnight and eventually removing the boat from the water.

Police guarding Mr Zegelis’ boat “Arturs” last year:

During the trial, Mr Zegelis said he was paid to sail the boat from Trinidad to Latvia by a Russian man, and had not intended to come to Bermuda however diverted to the island after experiencing problems with his sailboat.

He also claimed he had no prior knowledge of the drugs, having discovered the cocaine in a compartment on the boat after a few days at sea. He did admit to having knowledge of the gun, saying he needed it for protection against pirates.

Photo of the cocaine:

He was in possession of 165kg [363lbs] of cocaine valued at $48 million —  one of the largest drug seizures in Bermuda’s history — and a 9mm Beretta, 192 rounds of ammunition and two extended magazines.

The time Mr Zegelis has already spent in custody will be counted towards the sentence, and the judge suggested he may end up being paroled and deported after serving a third of his sentence [8.3 years].

Update 7.23pm: Acting Superintendent Sean Field-Lament said, “The Bermuda Police Service welcomes the Supreme Court’s ruling and sentencing in the Zegelis case, which will hopefully send a strong message and act as a deterrent.

“This successful outcome underscores the ongoing partnership between law enforcement agencies both locally and overseas to combat illicit drug activity.

“We would also like to acknowledge the hard work of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions that diligently brought this matter to a conclusion.”

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Comments (39)

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  1. Wow says:

    Isn’t it ironic that his sentence is the same that we give to murders….hmmm!

    On another note, I’m pretty sure he wishes that he was caught in a different jurisdiction, BDA goes hard on drug importation (even if it wasn’t meant to be brought here).

  2. reality check says:

    welcome 2 bermuda bruh!

  3. LMAWTFO says:

    Waste of time and money.

    The real losers here…………Bermudians.

    • What Next says:

      I agree known how Bermuda needs to make money i would have said let’s give him a hefty fine he could have had his family send him his fine money and let him go along on his jurney. Failing getting the money then leave him in WG and we spend a whole lot of money on him.

  4. Come Correct says:

    Great, so instead of deporting him from jump with maybe a heavy fine, we the tax payers, now have to fork out another $82,000 a year for another prisoner in our already over crowded prison. Let’s just hope his story about that Russian is bs, because if the Russians say they will find you and kill you, they will find you and guess what…kill you. Google his name, its not hard to figure out where he is. Has anyone tried to find his family? If they are missing there may just be some truth to what he said. I wonder which MP will adopt west gate to fix the RPG sized hole in the wall since our government is broke.

  5. True Blue says:

    Bermuda should have let him continue on his journey and let his country deal with the issue. Now we have to pay for him for the next 25 years. Woulda saved us a couple of dollars! LOL!

    • bermy-boy says:

      him being caught im bermuda saved his life ounce he got were he has going he would have been shot dead and pushed in the ocean by the russian mafia ………who he was working for

      • Jonny rocket says:

        thats his burden to pay, they all know the risks.

  6. Chad says:

    HAHAHAH “Bermuda IS NOT the place to sell drugs” That Judge must not know how much more expensive drugs sell for in Bermuda.

  7. Only just begun.. says:

    This truly was a waste of the taxpayers time and money… and it’s ONLY JUST BEGUN! I’m definitey no proponent of drug trafficking, but seriously… we really could’ve sent this guy AND his drugs on their merry way! Oh well, pay up Bermuda… again.

  8. Only just begun.. says:

    I’m still sitting here thinking about how stupid this is. This guy became a drug trafficker because his boat broke down near Bermuda. That’s kinda funny… lol.


    Bermuda charged him, Bermuda tried him, Bermuda convicted him, Bermuda will have to “house” him for whatever amount of time he has to serve. Did we take back the Bermudians that were tried and sentenced in the U.S.? They’re serving their time where they were tried and convicted. Unfortunate, but true.

  10. Damned if you do Damned if you don't says:

    What the hell is wrong with you people had he gotten off you all would have been on here complaining about how lenient Bermuda’s laws are. Can we make up our minds please. Everyone went crazy when the cruise ship passenger got “only” a $800 fine when he was caught with a small amount of weed. But now when the judge for once dishes out a punishment that in my opinion is proportionate to the crime everyone wants to complain about wasting tax payers money. Don’t get me wrong i definitely think that our judges get a lot of decisions wrong but when they do get something right could we at least acknowledge it and stop trying to find something to pick at all the time.

  11. I See you Looking says:

    So now he has been sent to jail… will his sailboat be auctioned off at the next HM Customs Auction?

    I can sell my house and live on his sailboat!

  12. amen says:

    He should have thought about his kids before he decided to traffic drugs.

  13. GPS says:

    The Bermudian Prisoners will educated him on how to work the prison system….good behavior, kitchen job, enroll in a G.E.D. Class….He’ll be out in 2 years time.

    It’s a good thing Judge Archie Warner isn’t a supreme court judge, cause all the sailor would have received would be a 25 year suspended sentence and two days of hopeless probation…..I say “Hopeless Probation” cause our probation service is as usefull as an appendix.

  14. jusayin says:

    with this conviction and the drugs never reaching their destination i can’t help but wonder what will happen to his family and the persons waiting on their stash once whoever paid him catches wind of this…

  15. Jammys says:

    That is a lot of blow! Where did it go?

  16. More with less says:

    I’m wondering why we sentence a drug trafficker 25 years and attempted murder is given 10 years? How in the hell can these judges sleep at night? 25 years for drugs that weren’t intended for Bermuda streets? Mind boggling just mind boggling. I in no way condone what he was doing but I do believe attempted murder is far worse a crime than drug trafficking and all y’all should be outraged at Bermuda’s justice bassakwards system.

  17. I See you Looking says:

    Solution for the confiscated drugs..give them to all the drug abusing prisoners at Westgate, hope they overdose and that will solve some of our taxpayers $$$$ being spent on useless individuals who choose a life of crime while everyone else is working hard to improve their lives.

  18. M.P.Mountbatten JP says:

    Game Over

  19. Judgement says:

    It must be who you are or maybe he should have said that he forgot he was travelling with the drugs and gun just like the cruise ship passenger and his bullets or the Missonary and his gun and undeclared $150000 worth of gold and then either the prosecution/police could have felt he didn’t need to be charged or the prosecution could have asked for a complete or conditional discharge after he had been charged smdh

  20. bubbles says:

    This is a serious matter,people waiting for shipment russians will attack families and then they coming here for there drugs, bermuda not safe

  21. OMG says:

    So it will cost us(BDA Taxpayers) $2,000,000, yes $2M to serve his sentence. Send him back to where ever!!!!

  22. Iwant toknow thetruth says:

    Its obvious that judge Carlisle Greaves did not take into consideration that this prisoner will now cost me, you the tax payer $80grand a year!! Send the b@st@rd back to Latvia!!

  23. Opressed says:

    We should have deported him, sold the drugs and sailboat, it would have been a win win situation. I’m sure a lot of those drugs will end up on the street here anyway, government should have done the selling.

  24. Gotcha says:

    WASTE of time,should have been deported today.
    The system here is a sick sick joke run by sick sick people!

  25. Between de lines says:

    Hmmm, Would it make sense to sell the drugs to known drug users to obtain the cash, then take that money and build the new drug rehab retreat plus clear up some of our national debt? Then if you put all the drug addicts whom the drugs were sold to in treatment there, that would solve both problems now wouldn’t it.

  26. Between de lines says:

    Hmmm, Would it make sense to sell the drugs to known drug users to obtain the cash, then take that money and build the new drug rehab retreat plus clear up some of our national debt? Then if you put all the drug addicts whom the drugs were sold to in treatment there, that would solve both problems now wouldn’t it.

  27. terry says:

    Never read so much sht in my life.
    Never mind.
    The Rusians are comming……bwahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  28. Judgement says:

    The Russians are coming ,Bermuda is not safe! Are you serious what load of Crap! I guess you all did some informing or stole their drugs and they are coming for you smh

  29. chief says:

    So is the judge even bermudian?? If not this explains why he dnt give a sewer rats a$$ bout the tax payers dollar

  30. Dee says:

    I hope Bermuda is sending him back to his country to serve those 25 years. It would be very unfair for us as tax payers to pay $80,000 a year to keep him fed at WestGate.

  31. The man did not import anything into Bermuda, although someone now has his drug stash to do so now. The matter is absurd: it suggests that anyone passing through the 12-mile territorial limit could be boarded, searched and arrested for ‘importing’ drugs into the island.

    As someone suggested, he should just have been kicked out of Bermuda, sent back to sea to take his chances in the wild Atlantic. Now we will have to pay to keep him in luxury and drugs at Westgate for a ridiculous 25 years, during which he is likely to be abused by everyone at Westgate as he does not look like the majority of inmates and minders.

    • Fruity says:

      I agree! And sadly our streets shall be plentiful soon ;) AND altho I don’t believe it, IF true about Mafia – They Declare WAR – lol but real – Bda folk is JOKE compared to folk ot there!.. smh

  32. IDGAFWUT says:

    Bermuda’s Justice System on some BS !How ya goin give the guy 25years…..when he wasn’t even comeing to bermuda !