Latvian Drug Smuggler’s Appeal Dismissed

March 27, 2014

Janis Zegelis Bermuda May 29 2012 (1)A Latvian sailor who was convicted two years ago of possessing almost $50 million worth of cocaine and sentenced to 25 years in prison had his appeal dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

His appeal was against his conviction, and there was no appeal against the sentence.

Janis Zegelis sailed to Bermuda from Trinidad and was arrested in August 2011, after Customs officials searched his boat while it was docked in the St George’s area and found the cocaine as well as a gun and ammunition.

He was in possession of 165kg [363lbs] of cocaine which the Court heard was valued up to $48 million and a 9mm Beretta, 192 rounds of ammunition and two extended magazines. The cocaine haul ranks as one of the largest drug seizures in Bermuda’s history.

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.

The full Court of Appeal decision is below [PDF here]

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Comments (14)

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  1. Jonny rocket says:

    Can anyone tell me why, with our jails already at capacity and a cost of $80K a year per inmate, are we not deporting this guy back to latvia. We dont need to be taking the burdens of incarcerating any foreign nationals. Ban them from Bermuda for life and send them cracking. It wasnt even his intention to come to Bermuda in the 1st place.

    • Evie says:

      I totally agree

    • Its a conspiracy! says:

      Because its attractive to the headlines and will carry on in history that Bermuda’s name was used in such a HUGE bust..

    • X man says:

      AH ha’ ya Hit it right on the nail!
      Why should we have to pay $160,000 bucks for one mans stupidity – after all Bermuda was not actural destination.
      By the time he leaves he would get – new glasses,a few a full Medical checkups,and every thing else that we have offer
      when we could have sent him packing.
      To be honest half of the Money we borrowed is going to be spent on Judicial stupidity and desperation.

  2. Coffee says:

    It makes no sense to imprison anyone for more then ten years on drug charges regardless of the amount involved , unless of course some other aggravating factors arise such as violence or death in the commission of the crime .

  3. Huh? says:

    25 years on drug charges, but only 3 years for Jennifer Franks? This island is so backwards sometimes.

  4. tricks are for kids says:

    Help me out here……Aren’t we a country that is severely in debt?….Why are we WASTING $80,000 (plus with inflation) housing a foreign national?…We have already WASTED enough money “housing/feeding/clothing” him….send him on his merry way and I agree with an earlier post just ban him (have a Bermuda Stop list) and prevent him from coming here ever again….Not that it makes what he was doing right but he wasn’t even coming here…he just got caught out…..Please stop wasting OUR tax payer money…..

    • inna says:

      Apparently there are those that think we arent in debt?? I know of a few groups i could name who swear by this thinking, but we wont go there.

      I 100% agree with you, there is no ready for us to incarcerate this guy, slap a lifetime ban on his record, and deport is a$$ back to fri**in Latvia!

  5. Fowl says:

    Maybe he should have shot someone with the gun and got 5 years off or more like all the other murderers. O wait he’s not Bermudian nevermind.

  6. Will says:

    this man was trying to save our government money! why didn’t we grant him appeal! or just send him home and let them deal with it…stupid prohibition laws..grrrrrr

  7. Keepin' it Real...4Real! says:

    i’d like to know truthfully if it is at all possible…where is this $50,000,000 worth of cocaine…no one in their right mind would destroy anything worth fifty million dollars…would you ..?

  8. Judge & Jury says:

    Send him home and stop paying for ignorant defense lawyers taking more of our money.

  9. Fountain of Youth says:

    Truth is, if prosecutors had any common sense or logic, this man is innocent like he claims. Bermudians live in a bubble, a dream world where major organized crime does not exist. But in every other nation it does. The Russian mob is a deadly serious organization that will kidnap, rape, torture, and murder your entire family if you do not obey their demands. Mobs hire INNOCENT people to do work for them, and coerce and force and extort them into obeying through nefarious methods.
    No man would take that much powder cocain worth that much on a small yacht across 4 thousand miles of ocean. Common sense. He was forced to.
    Where would he get that money? Not all europeans are billionaires, you know. Only a businessman or mobster worth in excess of a half billion would be able to even afford a $50 million cocaine shipment risked over water. This cocaine was NOT destined for Bermuda, as Russian mob has no interest in our tiny island. It was headed somewhere else or for a pickup. This man has a family, and will never see them again now, thanks to the moronic expose of him in the media. The mob will already have the whereabouts of his entire family, and I guarantee you they are all in jeapardy now, if not already in harm’s way. Unlike most of you, I have prayed for his family and him. I don’t know him or his family or anyone in the case, by the way. I know facts about life and how mobs works. I know this man is not the guilty drug smuggler or dealer you want to believe. He is a pawn of the mobmen. In most other nations, this reality is accepted, and such pawns are not punished like their more guilty counterparts.
    The mob makes them the scapegoat. If a man with a silenced pistol pointed at your head and said, take this boat to an island, or twenty of my men will kidnap and rape your wife and children until death.” —what would you do? Would you sail that boat to protect your family? Or would you say “No!” and end up finding your beloved family dead?
    But that is how these genius mobs work. That is how their schemes work so well. The mob bosses stay untounched, while innocents get shot and locked up. Genius, huh? Sad thing is, Bermuda is not aware of this reality, or does not have humanity in their hearts, and is treating this poor man like he was the bad guy.

    Did the Bermuda police test his gun to see if it had been fired? Did they find used bullet casings on his boat? Did they consider that?
    Not that it matters, but he probably never even used his gun. Whilst prosecutors are imagining him as some big evil bearded man with loads of ammo ready to shoot up anyone.

    Poor guy, my heart goes out to him. Now he is trapped in a foreign country he has never been to, while he probably has no clue what has happened to his family. It is a tragedy.

    And once again, according to design, the mob bosses stay untouched, and their pawns get trapped. Why can’t society outsmart them, instead of playing their game? INDEED! We will never stop them, unless we stop playing their game.

    • Fowl says:

      you are correct. but the problem is that he can’t go back home anyway without $50mil in drugs or in cash. He shows up years later with no drugs and no cash he is dead. The sad reality is that there’s a high possibility he won’t see his family again even if he walked out of here a free man today.