Cruising Notes  /  Scrapbook

A Cautionary Tale – and a rallying call to the Cruising Community

They left from Natal – three young Brazilians and a French delivery skipper, aboard a British-flagged schooner.
The yacht was 72ft long and had once been beautiful, but she was no longer in tip-top condition. Throughout the previous week as they sailed north from Salvador the crew had experienced many problems with her – but what of that? For years the three Brazilian men had dreamed of making a passage across the Atlantic to Europe, and a few problems with the engine and the sails could not deter them. Excitement is palpable in the posts which young Daniel Guerra shared on Facebook. “The world is a book,” he told his friends, “And I am reading it!”

Life seldom gives us what we planned. Even so, few could have guessed that Daniel’s dream would actually become a veritable nightmare.

The cranky vessel succeeded in carrying her crew across the ocean – she arrived safely in Cape Verde – but two days after reaching harbour the boat was boarded by the police; and in the depths of her bilge, in a secret compartment, a hidden cargo was found. It transpired that Rich Harvest was not only carrying the four men; she was also carrying 1.2 tonnes of cocaine, with a street value of around 180 million dollars!
No one could have been more surprised by the discovery of the drugs than Daniel and his companions – but, of course, that didn’t help them. They were placed in gaol. Seven months later they stood trial, they were found guilty of trafficking, and they were each sentenced to ten years in prison.[1]

The waterfront in Mindelo, with the marina in the foreground. ‘Rich Harvest’ initially anchored off the marina. After waiting 24 hours for the authorities to visit, the captain rowed ashore to complete the entrance formalities.

I’ve never spoken to Daniel Guerra, but my son-in-law is a friend of his. Daniel and Gean met for the first time in Ushuaia, and they got to know each other some months later when they were both living and working in Florianopolis. However, my personal interest in this case doesn’t stop there. I’m concerned about Daniel and his friends because they’re fellow yotties, and the trap that they’ve been caught in is one which could ensnare any of us.

Like me and mine, Daniel Guerra is a nomad. Part of his childhood was spent in Australia, and perhaps that was what sparked his desire to roam. Having obtained a degree in International Relations from the University of Santa Catarina (Brazil), Daniel relocated to Portugal to do a Masters. Whilst in Europe he started to travel by bicycle, making extensive journeys throughout the Iberian peninsula, and on his return to his homeland he set up an organisation, called Liberbike, whose aim was to encourage and unite others who enjoy this means of transport. As part of this new project Daniel decided to make a long journey – the longest journey that a cyclist could ever make on this continent – travelling alone from Colombia all the way south to Ushuaia.

Daniel cycled all the way from Colombia to Ushuaia

It was after Daniel arrived in Ushuaia that he got bitten by the sailing bug. Sitting in the marina in that city was a big aluminium sloop called Endurance, and she was flying a Brazilian flag. Naturally, Dani went to say hello – and that was how he made his great discovery: He learned that the crew didn’t own the boat; they were actually being paid to sail her! It didn’t take long for the young man to realise that he had found a way to make a career out of travelling. On his return to Brazil he sought a place where he could study for the British Yachtmaster’s certification, in order to become a professional skipper, and eventually he settled on a well-accredited school on Ilha Bela (Sao Paulo).

Daniel took sailing lessons in order to pursue his goal of becoming a yacht delivery skipper

Pieces of paper are all well and good, but as everyone knows, the thing that counts most in the sailing world is experience. Having been born and brought up on sailing boat, my son Caesar had no difficulty in getting a job aboard a yacht sailing to Antarctica. Caesar had already criss-crossed the Atlantic many times before he was in his twenties. But for most people, acquiring ‘sea-miles’ is a challenge.
Training at the same sailing school as Dani was Rodrigo Dantas, another would-be pro. Ten years younger than Daniel, at 25, Rodrigo had grown up messing about in boats, but he also needed to acquire some offshore experience. The two young men were fortunate enough to get a ride to the island of Fernando do Noronha together – but what they really needed was a long ocean passage. Eventually, their chance came: A reputable Dutch firm called The Delivery Company was looking for a skipper and two crew for a yacht lying in Salvador.[2] Rich Harvest had spent over a year in Brazil, but now her owner wanted to sail her back home to Europe.

Rich Harvest. With the benefit of hindsight one feels that the name offers a clue… but in fact the boat was not actually christened by the man who, at this time, appeared to be her owner. Mr Fox, as he called himself, was one of four men who had brought the schooner over from Spain.[3] However, at the time when the boat arrived he was not listed as the owner, and he was using a different name.[4] Clearly, the man was not all that he appeared to be; but what he was, however, was utterly charming. When Rodrigo Dantas told his father about the planned voyage, that gentleman was sufficiently concerned to seek a meeting in order to ensure that his son was shipping with someone suitable – and George Fox passed the test with flying colours. Meanwhile, Daniel Guerra posted a photo of himself and his new friend aboard the boat. Said he, “Life gives us opportunities and brothers. Many thanks for the opportunity, Fox. The learning, experience, and companionship make me stronger. Thanks mate.”[5]
And Mr Fox swallowed the compliments and kept on smiling.

Daniel captioned this photo of himself and Fox, “Life gives us opportunities and brothers. … Thanks, mate”

Just before they were due to sail, Fox got off the boat. He told the crew that something had cropped up. Family affairs.[6] He left Brazil the day before the Brazilian Policia Federal pounced, on July 18th.[7]

After a seven hour search with sniffer dogs, the Brazilian police found nothing suspicious, and although they had initially been somewhat taken aback by events, upon consideration it seemed to Daniel and Rodrigo that the search of a foreign-flagged yacht was probably normal. Furthermore they reckoned that it was actually a bonus. Surely, no yacht could ever have received a cleaner bill of health![8] (Rodrigo actually videoed part of the PFB’s search.[9])

On the 24th July the boat left Natal, bound for the Azores – but less than 24 hours later she had to turn back after the engine caught fire.[10] This disaster also revealed something quite unexpected about the delivery skipper provided by the Dutch company: According to Daniel, this man didn’t know how to sail! He and Rodrigo brought the yacht back into harbour.

When he was informed of the latest developments, Fox sacked the skipper and returned to Natal.[11] He repaired the engine. He also suggested that the guys should find another crew member, so that the watch-keeping would be easier – and so Rodrigo invited a family friend. 43 year old Daniel Dantas (no relation to Rodrigo) had no sailing experience but he had always wanted to cross an ocean. He joined the boat on 27th July. The men assumed that Fox would now sail the boat with them, but at the last minute he announced that he had found another professional skipper. The owner of the marina near Salvador, where he had kept the boat, had given him the name of a Frenchman called Olivier Thomas who lived in Brazil.[12]

Olivier Thomas. When I heard the name I didn’t recognise it, but having spent days researching the details of this case I suddenly realised: I know this guy! Tall and lanky Olivier, with his catamaran! I remember hearing how Olivier built the boat on the beach in Itaparica (opposite Salvador). He had lived in Brazil for 15 years.[13] According to a mutual friend, a few years after we met Olivier he sailed the catamaran north to the Caribbean, and in the summer of 2017 he sold her. He was planning to construct a new yacht, perhaps in Thailand. From St Martin’s, our friend told me, Olivier flew to France – and it was evidently while he was here, visiting his family, that Fox got in touch.

Olivier Thomas sent an e-mail back, explaining that if Fox wanted him to skipper the boat he would have to provide not just the delivery fee but also two airfares (from France to Brazil, twice-over). He also informed his would-be employer that the going rate for the trip was around 8,000 Euros. When Fox agreed to the price, the yachtsman invited his father to join him in the venture; but the elder Monsieur Thomas was already busy.[14]

“Ready to cross the ocean”
Daniel’s photo of ‘Rich Harvest’ just before she left Natal

Olivier Thomas joined Rich Harvest on the 31st July.[15] On the following day, Fox bid the crew adieu, and just three days after that, on 4th August, the vessel set out from Natal.[16]
“I’ve embarked on many trips,” wrote Daniel Guerra, “but this one will be special. It was six years ago that I first dreamed of crossing the Atlantic on a sailing boat. Dreaming is not enough, but now, thanks to God, I am realising the dream! Next stop Cape Verde.”
“Fair winds. God be with you, amigo”, his Facebook followers chorused.

“Zarpamos”
Daniel documented the moment that the yacht left Natal for Cape Verde.

Unbeknownst to Daniel at this moment, the new skipper had no intention of stopping in Cape Verde. Olivier Thomas had been hired to take the boat to the Azores, and although Fox had intended going via Cape Verde, he prefered the straight line route. He had therefore cleared for Madeira.[17]

Unfortunately, the trip north did not go as planned. First the engine broke down; and then the hydraulic pump on the steering sprang a leak. Reluctantly, Olivier reverted to plan A.

Eighteen days after her departure from Natal, Rich Harvest put into in Mindelo, Cape Verde. Immediately upon arrival, Daniel Guerra posted an account of the crossing:
“I’m so exhausted, my head is fit for nothing! … Dozens of surprises … Many problems with the boat … First, a fire; then problems with the batteries; a constant leak; diesel fumes … Big waves; strong winds; the doldrums … A crewman who was ill and never helped with anything … Arguments … But it was a lesson. I loved all of this and would live it all again. For many reading this it will sound like a lot of suffering, but for me it’s happiness; it’s my job. … You all know my perversion, [which is] to live a life of challenges. … A normal life is really not suitable for me. I do not want to live in vain.”
Daniel was exulting in having won a hard fight, and anyone who has crossed an ocean under sail will be able to relate to his feelings of relief and elation. Nor was there any pretence here. Even in the midst of the trials and tribulations, he had still enjoyed himself. The day that the yacht crossed the equator happened also to be Rodrigo’s birthday, and the two of them had celebrated the fact that they were actually, truly living their dream. Daniel closed the account with thanks to his friends and family – “and I would like to thank the owner of the boat, Mr Fox, who believed in us.”

This photo accompanied Daniel’s Facebook account of the voyage

Unbeknownst to Daniel and his companions, the police in Cape Verde had been told to expect the arrival of Rich Harvest; and it would seem that they had been told exactly where to look for a certain cargo of contraband.[18] Two days after Daniel posted his facebook update, the police boarded the vessel. By their own account, it took them more than seven hours to disassemble the cabin and reach the secret cache – which was under a bunk, under a 600L fibreglass watertank, and under a steel plate which they had to cut off. Inside the hidden compartment they discovered 1,063 packets, each wrapped in layers of plastic and each one the size of a notebook computer.[19] Olivier Thomas says that when he first glimpsed them he thought they must something intended to keep the boat afloat in the event of a shipwreck; but then a policeman tore open a packet and put a syring of liquid to the powder within, changing its colour. The police were exultant: “Cocaine!”
In his diary Thomas wrote, “At this moment I know that we have been fucked. I feel as if I am falling from a tenth floor.”

Two of the crew were by now living ashore. Daniel Dantas had spent the entire trip incapacitated by seasickness and would presumably not have wanted to continue the voyage anyway – but in fact, the skipper had decided that both he and his namesake, Rodrigo, should leave. This was not a reflection on the younger man’s skills; it was simply that the boat evidently needed a lot of work done to it and Olivier could not see himslef getting underway again inside three weeks. Accordingly, he had agreed to pay for their flights back to Brazil, and he had officially removed their two names from the crewlist. Thus it was that, initially, only the skipper and Daniel Guerra were arrested. They were charged with trafficking illegal drugs and were immediately imprisoned.

Over the course of the ensuing seven months the full story of the misadventure began to come to light. It transpired that this was not the first time that Rich Harvest had had a brush with the law. Some 13 years earlier, in 2004, she was being used as an offshore ‘offy’. Her owners, Phil Berriman and Trevor Lyons, filled the schooner to the gunwhales with duty-free alcohol and cigarettes – some say in Gibraltar; some say in Germany – and then they anchored her just over 12 miles off the coast of Britain, in international waters. Customers were encouraged to make a ‘Booze Cruise’ out to the ‘Baccy Boat’ for the purpose of buying duty-free merchandise.

‘Rich Harvest’ was once a very beautiful yacht. (Wikipedia photograph.)

When the Customs and Excise put a stop to this business, Berriman relocated to Gibraltar, and in 2013 we find him setting up a salvage business which was to be run from the yacht. Seemingly, things didn’t work out, because by the time she reached Salvador (Brazil) in June 2016, Rich Harvest apparently belonged to George Fox, a resident of Gibraltar.
Except that, in fact, the Brazilian documents show the boat as belonging to one “Matthew Aiton”… and, according to their records, the name on the Fox’s passport was George Edward Saul.[20]

Unfortunately, the fox wasn’t so cunning and clever as he evidently imagined himself to be. According to the Policia Federal, he and his companions and their boat were already being watched by the British NCA (National Crime Agency) before the boat left Brazil [21], and it was apparently on the instigation of the NCA that Rich Harvest was closely watched whilst in Natal, with PFB operatives even taking photos of the crew in secret. Then, when the boat’s departure seemed imminent, the search was made. However, although they got the floorboards up and examined some newly built tanks, the Brazilians didn’t actually take pick-axes and cutting torches to the boat. The Cape Verdean police were more determined.

For four months, two of the crew of Rich Harvest lived at liberty in Mindelo – yet they didn’t attempt to run off. Considering themselves to be innocent of any crime, and trusting the Cape Verdean authorities to behave in a reasonable manner, Rodrigo Dantas and Daniel Dantas stayed to await their trial. Rodrigo passed the time helping out at the local marina, whilst Daniel Dantas started writing a semi-autobiographical book about an estate agent who hitches a ride on a sailing boat which turns out to be carrying drugs… The men lived in the pensão Chave d’Oro, near the seafront. Both co-operated in every way possible with the police, their only concern at this time being to resolve the crime and thereby win liberty for their friends. Eventually, however, they too were put under lock and key. And finally, after almost seven months, all four men were tried.

Rodrigo Dantas

The families say that they and their lawyers had difficulty preparing a defence for Daniel Guerra and Olivier Thomas since communication with the prisoners was very restricted. Moreover, it was evident that the best source of evidence to demonstrate Daniel’s innocence would surely be his camera, his cellphone, and his lap-top – but these had been confiscated by the police. According to the family, these belongings were subsequently said by the police to have been mislaid.

Prior to the commencement of proceedings, the Brazilian police had conducted a thorough investigation of the events which took place at their end of the journey. According to their report, they had learned that Rich Harvest spent several months in the Ocema marina, in Bahia Aratu (close to the city of Salvador), and during this time a great deal of reconstruction work was carried out by the local boatyard. The manager of the boatyard said that, in total, about $R 449.000 had been spent. A large water tank was built. At a particular juncture, certain materials were also taken aboard, including fibreglass and about 20 kilos of resin. According a witness interviewed by the PFB, George ‘Fox’ Saul himself used these materials to create divisions within three fuel tanks under the floor, but he then paid the witness to do the job of painting the new work.[22]

The boat then sailed south, having cleared for Rio de Janeiro; but she next appears in the Brazilian authorities’ records a month later when she cleared into the state of Espirito Santo. According to the police, the mechanic who was aboard during this period said that the yacht went to the town of Guarapari, just south of the city of Vitória. Here they moored to a private jetty in front of a beachside villa. The mechanic (an Argentinian) was dismissed for the time being, and Rich Harvest spent more than two weeks on the private jetty before he was recalled and paid to take the boat back up to Salvador.[23] It was only after her return to Salvador that Daniel Guerra and Rodrigo Dantas joined the yacht and met Fox.

Having studied the lay-out of the marina in Salvador, and after interviewing employees there, the Policia Federal concluded that the cocaine could not have been loaded while the yacht was in that very public place. Nor could it have been brought aboard while she was in Natal. (Aside from anything else, if the cargo had been loaded while the boat was in the marina, the event would presumably have been captured by security cameras; and if it was loaded while the boat was in Natal and under surveillance, the police would have seen it.) Thus, it had to have been put aboard during that fortnight in Espirito Santo. They even presented photographs which appear to show that, after the trip to Guarapari, the boat went down on her lines by about an inch.[24]

The Brazilian police concluded that the drugs were certainly aboard the boat when they searched it in Natal.[25] The information which they received from their informant apparently told them that the cargo had been loaded, and it evidently told them to look in the vicinity of the water-tanks – but, by their own admission, they did not make a sufficiently thorough inspection.They did not search in the place where the drugs were subsequently found.

The Policia Federal presented the Cape Verdean court with 600 pages of evidence whose conclusion was that the three Brazilians and the French skipper were innocent.
And the Cabo Verdean judge decided to ignore this evidence, since it had not arrived through the proper channels.

During the trial, the judge relied exclusively on evidence presented by the Cape Verdean police, whose investigation was necessarily restricted to the search of the boat and interviews with the suspects. The families of the men allege that great pressure was put on them to confess or to shop the others; but none was willing to plead guilty to a crime in which he had had no part. The Brazilian investigation specifically cleared the accused men of loading the cargo or of having any knowledge that it was aboard; it accused Fox and his associates. In presenting their evidence the Cape Verdean police declared that their investigation had “failed to ascertain who loaded the drug aboard the boat”.[26]

At the outset, the men were faced with the possibility of being ‘sent down’ for 14 years. At the conclusion, after four days, they were each sentenced to 10 years.
In summing up, the judge stated, as a fact, that the drugs were put aboard after the search by the Brazilian police.[27]
He cited the false-start from Natal as evidence of the way that the crew sought to fool the police (and he declared that, indeed, they had succeeded in so-doing).[28]
He refused to believe that the French skipper and Fox were not previously acquainted – for after all, they both knew the owner of the marina where the boat had been sitting – and he also alleged that the other men were also acquanited. Their pretence of not knowing one another was just an alibi.[29]
The judge said that if the boat were really just being delivered for Fox it would have been heading straight for England, where that person was a citizen.[30]
He pooh-poohed the idea that anyone would sail a boat without payment; he suggested that the sum of money which Olivier Thomas had got from the recent sale of his boat was in fact a payment for smuggling (although the Frenchman had receipts which proved his word).[31]
He appeared to believe that the ship’s logbook was a record kept, by the skipper, in order to prove that he had done his job and should be paid.[32]
He stated that the Frenchman had been chosen for the job because he knew the islands. This allegation was based on the fact that Olivier had once visited Sal.[33]
He considered that since the skipper had built his own boat, he must obviously know all about yacht construction and would have been able to know immediately that Rich Harvest had been fittted with a secret compartment.[34]
He stated that it was obvious that the destination had always been Cape Verde – which, as he pointed out, is now a favourite “entry port” for drug-smuggling – and he declared that if the skipper had really wanted to continue directly to Madeira he could easily have done so, even without the engine, as he still had sails. (He made no reference to the problem with the rudder.)[35]
He remarked upon the fact that the yacht carried “highly sophisticated communication devices and instruments” including a device called a “Gopro”… And as if that were not suspicous enough in itself, the date on this “device” was incorrectly set, so that the photos had the wrong date![36]
Finally, the judge declared that the men all knew about the drugs, and he said that they were to receive “a considerable financial compensation” for carrying them.[37]

The judge stated that “the high degree of probability supersedes the presumption of innocence of the defendants”.[38] In deciding what sentence to issue he had taken into account the fact that they were “not in the least repentant” and still declared their innocence; thus, he must make an example of them, in order to deter others.
In other words, if the crew had been guilty and had admiited to the crime they would have got a lower sentence; whereas an innocent person, unwilling to lie, must suffer the judge’s wrath.

At the end of the day, having ruined the lives of four men and crushed the hopes of their families, the Cape Verdean judge closed the cover of the file associated with the case – and the file was seen to be entitled, Operation Zorro.
Operation Fox.
George ‘Fox’ Saul has apparently not been seen since his ship was found to be full of drugs. He was not mentioned as a suspect during the trial, except in the Brazilian documents (where he is named as the culprit, and the crew are all cleared of any responsibility)[39], and nor were representatives of the British police called upon to reveal what they knew of his activities. Yet the title on that folder makes clear the fact that the Cape Verdean authorities knew that ‘Fox’ was the person they really needed to question.
The fact that they knew this also raises a very important question: Having been told that George ‘Fox’ Saul was suspected of smuggling[40], why did the Cape Verdean police not wait until he arrived on the island? Why did they pounce prematurely?

Daniel’s father has remarked that “We do not fight drug-trafficking by condemning innocent people” – but are the authorities really trying to stop the drug trade?
It would seem not. It would appear that no attempt to locate the true criminal was ever made, the judge preferring instead to punish those who were found on the scene of the crime. This is the mediaeval approach to justice, and it is not one which is acceptable in the modern world.

Olivier Thomas, Daniel Guerra, Rodrigo Dantas, and Daniel Dantas were doing just what my son, Caesar, does; and they were doing just what my daughter’s husband, Gean, does. In fact, as I write these words Caesar, Xoë, and Gean are actually delivering a yacht for a customer. In the past, Caesar has sailed on a yacht which travelled from South America to the Falklands. And Gean has sailed on one which went all the way from Argentina to the Azores (which was also the final destination for Rich Harvest). At no stage have Caesar or Gean ever considered the possibility of exploring the innermost depths of a delivery yacht’s keel – and nor did my husband, Nick, ever think of doing such a thing when he used to deliver yachts. Nick and I actually met whilst doing a delivery trip; and neither of us ever thought to even look in the lockers under the bunks, still less below the water-tanks. Who, in heaven’s name, would ever think of looking below the water-tanks before he agreed to sail aboard a boat?

Do drug-smugglers film their voyages? Do drug-smugglers post regular updates on Facebook, letting the world know of their whereabouts?
Is it really likely that an organisation smuggling a $180,000,000 US cargo would want to risk their liberty by being personally involved in the carriage? And is it remotely likely that they would share the news of its existence with a bunch of hitch-hikers? (“Oh, by the way, I just thought I ought to mention the fact that there’s a ton of coke in the bilge. You’re all okay with that, aren’t you?”)

I am completely convinced that Daniel and his companions are innocent. Others might somehow arrive at a contrary conclusion – but the point is that, either way, opinions are not enough. The point is not really that “Dani didn’ do dat”. The point is that there is no evidence!

In any respectable country a man is innocent until proven guilty, and if there is a place where casual association and inference are sufficient grounds to steal a man’s freedom, as they were in the days of witch-burning, then we should all be very wary of visiting that place.
In the past I have praised and promoted Cabo Verde, arguing against those who reckon the islands to be dangerous. But, ironically, it seems that just as travellers’ attitudes are changing, the country is actually becoming the place that it was feared to be: lawless and corrupt. [Note that the report to which I have linked here dates from 2012, and it would seem that things have evidently gone downhill since then.]

Twenty years ago, Mindelo was a quiet town, Ilha Sal was a backwater, and the capital city of Praia (on Ilha Santiago) was also safe; one could even walk the streets by night. Now, all three of these islands have changed beyond recognition. Praia is so dangerous that yachts anchored off the town have been robbed while their crew is aboard; Sal has also had its share of thefts from boats and muggings on the beach; and friends who live in Mindelo tell me that there are gangs of violent robbers operating in the city, and that the police are in league with them. Whereas, before, even cannabis was almost unknown in the islands, now there are dealers competing to sell hard drugs. Would it be possible for all this to occur, in such small communities, without the assisatance of corrupt officials?

Be careful who you ship with, amigos! And be very careful where you go…
This could have been Gean. It could have been Caesar. It could be me. It could be you or yours.

We invite members of the cruising community, and others who understand the scene, to sign the petition seeking the release of our fellow sailors, Daniel Guerra, Rodrigo Dantas, Daniel Dantas, and Olivier Thomas – and we ask you to share their story.
And with great sadness, we recommend that tourists, and yachtsmen in particular, should boycott Cape Verde for safety reasons.

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO COMMENT

The following references are given in support of the statements made:1Noticias do Norte – “Operação Zorro” : Juiz condena os quatro arguidos a 10 anos de prisão2Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca. pg.14 (esp. 14,15,18,22,25,27, and 28. See also pg.49 (esp. 36).
See also 2017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO II hand-numbered pg. 42-45 (pgs. 42-45 of PDF) and pg. 62 (pg. 63 of PDF).3 – See Register of Arrivals for Natal; and see also various Policia Federal (PFB) documents, including this excerpt reproduced on pg.43 of the previously mentioned trial document:

“Conforme a informação de fls. 10/24 havia suspeitas de que um veleiro de 72 pés, bandeira do reino Unido, denominado RICH HARVEST, de propriedade de Mathew Aiton, teria se dirigido ao Brasil guiado pelos tripulantes ROBERT JAMES DELBOS, conhecido como BOB, MATHEW STEPHEN BOLTON, conhecido como MIKE e GEORGE EDWARD SAUL, conhecido pela alcunha de FOX. Insta salientar que na referida informação consta que George Saul seria irmão de Richard Saul, que foi preso com 1990 kilos de maconha sendo que foi posteriormente citado pela Policia Judiciária de S. Vicente que Richard foi preso justamente em um outro veleiro, denominado MAISHY STAR (fl. 03 do apenso III, volume I)”

See also 2017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO II pgs.71-72; and Document 3 (2017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO III – VOL I) pg.4. This same page also states that George Saul was previously arrested in Holland, aboard a yacht called Carissa, with 60kg cannabis – but it provides no evidence for this assertion and nor does it explain why, if he was guilty, he was not imprisoned.
See also Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca. Pg.43

4 – Ditto (all of the above). However, on pg.138 of document 2017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO III – VOL I we find a bill of sale, dating from 2015, in which ownership is transferred from John Dalton to George Saul in consideration of the sum of 120,000 Euros. Thus it seems that the information provided on the Brazilian document is incorrect. (Pg.138 of PDF. Hand-numbered 88 and also 135.)

5https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1255691344576854&set=p.1255691344576854&type=3&theater

6https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njomIkj21LE&t=4s (at 6m:32s)

72017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO III – VOL II hand-numbered 217 and also 175. Pg.18 of PDF. (This document also describes the fact that the police had spent the previous 5 days watching the yacht, and it presents clandestine photos of the crew, including Fox/Saul.)

8 – No.45 and 46 of the lawyer’s presentation on behalf of Daniel Guerra, contained on pg.17 of ‘Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca

9https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njomIkj21LE&t=4s (at 7m:41s)

102017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO III – VOL II hand-numbered pg. 177 (pg.20 of PDF).

11 – No.49 of the lawyer’s presentation on behalf of Daniel Guerra, contained on pg.17 of ‘Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca’. (The police report that Fox was on the scene the same day that the boat returned. See 10, above.)

12 – No.14-18 of the lawyer’s presentation on behalf of Olivier Thomas, contained on pgs.3-4 of ‘Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente, Comum Ordinario 248/17-18, Sentenca’.

13 – Ditto – No.11,12, and 13 (pg.3)

14 – Ditto – Nos.19-20, 27, and 31-35 (pgs.3-6)

15 – Ditto – No.37 (pg.6)

162017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO III – VOL I pg.14; Also Registos Rich Harvest (3).

17 – No.26 and 30 of the lawyer’s presentation on behalf of Olivier Thomas, contained on pg.5 of ‘Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente… Sentenca’. And see also the “Registos Rich Harvest”, as above.

182017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO III – VOL I pg.3, 5-10, and 141-141.

(“Chegou ao nosso conhecimento, através de uma fonte fidedigna de crédito que está eminente a passagem pelas águas territoriais cabo-verdianas do veleiro RICH HARVEST, proveniente do Brasil, eventualmente transportando cocaína dissimulado nos tanques e água. A embarcação deverá passar por São Vicente ou Santo Antão entre os dias 17 e 18 de agosto. FACTOS – Dados de inteligência indicam que o navio a vela RICH HARVEST com bandeira do Reino Unido partiu de Salvador da Baia, Brasil no inicio do corrente mês com destino a Cabo Verde, transportando eventualmente uma quantidade considerável de cocaina dissimulada no interior de depósitos de água, recentemente instalados. Consta que a tripulação deverá receber 100.000 Euros para este transporte. A embarcação encontra-se referenciada numa operação internacional denominada TREHALA que tem como alvo um grupo criminoso internacional que utilizam veleiros para transportar grandes quantidades de cocaína da América do Sul para a Europa com passagem por Cabo Verde”… “O interior do navio, também, terá sido alvo de modificações significativas para permitir a tripulação acesso a partes escondidas dos tanques de água. A tripulação da embarcação, que na altura passou por Cabo Verde, era constituída por George Saul, capitão, juntamente com os britânicos Robert Delbos e Matthew Bolton. Acredita-se que esta mesma tripulação se encontra a bordo do navio no momento.”. – 16th August 2017)

Note that these documents reveals that the authorities were expecting that the yacht would be crewed by George Saul et alia, and that they regarded these three named Englishmen as suspects.
Also Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca. Pg.43

19https://santiagomagazine.cv/index.php/sociedade/426-tonelada-de-cocaina-em-sao-vicente-dois-suspeitos-ficam-em-prisao-preventiva-os-outros-dois-sob-tir

(“Só que a PJ já sabia da existência da droga nesse iate, tendo por isso posto em andamento a “Operação Zorro” que viria, então a descobrir num fundo falso, coberto com cimento, vários pacotes contendo cocaína. Aliás, terá sido por causa disso – o cimento que teve de ser partido – que a PJ demorou quase 24 horas para encontrar toda a droga escondida no Rich Harvest. Logo de início conseguiram recuperar 500 quilos, mas à medida que iam quebrando o caso iam saindo mais, aumento para 700 até chegar aos 1.157 quilos de cocaína em elevado grau de pureza, no que já é a segunda maior apreensão de cocaína no arquipélago, só ultrapassado pelos 1.500 quilos da Operação Lancha Voadora.”)

20 – See 3, above

212017 – IPL 1070 – AUTOS PRINCIPAIS – fls.02-38 pg.10; also pg.26 of same document for clandestine photos of the crew

22 – Eg. 2017 – IPL 1070 – AUTOS PRINCIPAIS – fls.38-91 hand-lettered pg.46-48 (pg.9-11 of PDF)
(Precis: According to the testimony of Phillipe Pouvreau, manager of the boatyard, the work was done between July-Dec 2016 and was supervised by Robert Delbos. He declared that Delbos paid for the work, although Saul actually handed over the money. The sum of money paid to the yard amounts to about £92,000.)
See also Document 1 (APENSO I) in the same folio, for a plan of the yacht (Pg.3)
Note that the PFB found the three fuel tanks during their search, but they were empty. It seems to me that they were a ruse. To anyone who had been tracking the boat and the men (eg. the NCA) they gave the indication that – yes- the boat was intended to be used for smuggling, but – no – there was nothing aboard.

232017 – IPL 1070 – AUTOS PRINCIPAIS – fls.92-115 hand-numbered pgs.102 and 111 (pgs.11 and 20 of PDF); and – in the same document – No.30, hand-numbred pg.97-98 (pg.6 of PDF).

242017 – IPL 1070 – AUTOS PRINCIPAIS – fls.02-38 hand-numbered Pg.8
Also : Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca – pgs.49 and 50 (no.38 and 39), which is taken from the PFB report.

(“O material que se encontra nos autos, evidencia que George Saul, Robert Delbos e Matthew Bolton eram a “ponta” europeia do grupo criminoso. Já com relação a “ponta” brasileira, os indícios são contundentes para indicar Guarapari/ES como base geográfica da “desova” do entorpecente”

= “The material in the evidence shows that George Saul, Robert Delbos and Matthew Bolton were the European “tip” of the criminal group. Regarding the Brazilian “tip”, the evidence is strong to indicate Guarapari / ES as the geographical basis of the “spawning” of the narcotic.”

Also : 2017 – IPL 1070 – AUTOS PRINCIPAIS – fls.92-115 hand-lettered pg 98 (pg 7 of PDF) – No.33

25Noticias do Norte – No rasto do Rich Harvest: Quem carregou a cocaína? Onde foi carregada? (“Sem sombra de dúvidas a droga foi carregada no Estado do Espírito Santo”) See also PFB report, conclusions. Eg. Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca – pgs.49 and 50 (no.38 and 39); and see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njomIkj21LE&t=4s (12m:50s)

26 – See Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca (as above, pgs.49 and 50), excerpting the PDF documents:

“A droga foi dissimulada no interior da embarcação pessoalmente por George Saul, que foi o responsável inclusive em realizar a laminação de fibra no interior do porão, não havendo nenhuma circunstância que lhe obrigasse a compartilhar com a tripulação acerca dessa informação, qual seja, a existência de cocaína dentro do barco. …. Desta forma, com base no teor do &6 do art.º 1.º da Lei 12.830/30, sirvo-me dos fundamentos ora articulados para promover o respetivo indiciamentos de ROBERT JAMES DELBOS, MATTHEW STEPHEN BOLTON E GOERGE EDWARD SAUL, como incurso nas iras dos arts. 35 e 40. I da Lei 11.343/2006, já que responsáveis por operacionalizar a cocaína que foi remetida a partir do Brasil para o exterior”

= “The drug was concealed inside the vessel personally by George Saul, who was responsible for conducting the GRP lamination inside the hold, and there were no circumstances that forced him to share with the crew any information about the existence of cocaine inside the boat. …
Accordingly, based on the content of article 6 of article 1 of Law 12.830 / 30, I use the grounds hereby articulated to promote the respective indictments of ROBERT JAMES DELBOS, MATTHEW STEPHEN BOLTON and GEORGE EDWARD SAUL …”.
See also – Noticias do Norte – No rasto do Rich Harvest: Quem carregou a cocaína? Onde foi carregada?

27Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca – Judgement, No.11, on pg.66

(“11. Após a data da fiscalização do veleiro – dia 18.07.2017-, no dia, hora e local não identificado, o George Saul e os seus colaboradores, bem como os arguidos Daniel Felipe da Silva Guerra, Rodrigo Lima Dantas e Daniel Ribeiro Dantas, participaram no carregamento da quantidade de droga apreendida dissimulada em esconderijos criados em espaços do veleiro”

= “11. After the date of the inspection of the sailing vessel, on 18.07.2017, on the day, time and place not identified, George Saul and his collaborators, as well as the defendants Daniel Felipe da Silva Guerra, Rodrigo Lima Dantas and Daniel Ribeiro Dantas, participated in the loading of the amount of seized drug concealed in hiding places created in spaces of the sailboat”.

16. Todos os arguidos foram contratados para o transporte da quantidade da droga apreendida mediante uma avultada compensação remuneratória e conheciam os esconderijos onde a mesma se encontrava dissimulada para o seu transporte até ao destino final, ilha da Madeira, Portugal.

= “16. All the defendants were hired to transport the quantity of the seized drug by means of a large compensation and knew the hiding places where it was concealed for its transport to the final destination, Madeira Island, Portugal”.)

28 – Ditto. Pgs.94 and 96

29 – Ditto. Pg.84

30 – Ditto. Pg.94

31 – Ditto. Pg.96

(“Não se pode olvidar que também consta dos autos um depósito em nome de Olivier no valor de 75000 euros que o mesmo alega resultante da venda de um barco que efetuou. Só que a coincidência é tanta que tal depósito foi efectuada nas datas próximas da viagem, aliás, quando o Rich Harvest já havia iniciado as tais manobras para confundir as autoridades brasileiras.”

= “One must not forget the documents before the Court which show a deposit in Olivier’s name amounting to EUR 75000, which he alleges came from the sale of a vessel. But the coincidence is so great that such a deposit was made on the dates close to the trip.”)
Note: This allegation is ludicrous, bearing in mind that Olivier can prove that he sold the boat! Indeed, when I asked a mutual friend if he knew the whereabouts of Olivier, he told me that Olivier had sold Aquamundo in the summer of 2017 and flown to France.

32 – Ditto. Pg.69 (27)

33 – Ditto. Pg.67 (14)

34 – Ditto. Pg.85

35 – Ditto. Pg.94

36 – Ditto. Pg.78

37 – Ditto. Pg.67 (16) and Pg.70 (33)

38 – Ditto. Pg.74

39 – See PFB report, conclusions. Eg. Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de S. Vicente … Sentenca – pgs.49 and 50 (no.38 and 39)

40 – See 18, above

2017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO III – VOL I contains a copy of George Saul’s passport, with his photograph. (pg.47 of PDF. Hand-numbered pg.45)
Another photo is provided on pg.18 of 2017 – IPL 1070 – AUTOS PRINCIPAIS – fls.02-38

44 Comments

  1. Patrícia Sousa Focchi

    Excelente matéria! Muito esclarecedora! Parabéns por apoiar os velejadores brasileiros inocentes! Que sejam libertados o mais rápido possível!

  2. There was that film French Connection and its sequel with Gene Hackman as lead, though in that case the vessel was a commercial ship. It is by now common knowledge that yachts are used for trafficking. There are cases of people trafficking in yachts across the Mediterranean.

    So what happened to the cargo? Did the convicted or their defense lawyers get to see it destroyed?

    There are similarities with the case of the British yacht Arturs which arrived damaged, in Bermuda, in July 2011. The Latvian skipper, 30, was on passage from Trinidad to Latvia single handed and a search revealed 166kg of cocaine hydrochloride, a 9mm Beretta pistol and 192 rounds. He claimed that he only became aware of the cargo 3 days into the voyage and then was under threats from the Russian man who contracted him to continue the mission. His story does have some plausibility. However, he is now enjoying 25 years of free accomodation in Bermuda.
    http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20140324/NEWS/140329857
    I read of another British yacht delivery from the Antilles to Europe, British crew, which discovered 500kg of cocaine when trying to get a toilet to work. They contacted Bermuda whilst still in international waters, Scotland Yard took up the case and the crew were not prosecuted.
    There are regular accounts in the European press about yachts and sometimes commercial ships, being intercepted in international waters inbound from South America and the Antilles. The policy seems to be to allow the voyage to begin and intercept the vessels well offshore of the Azores or Iberia. Perhaps this improves the rate of destruction of the drugs and the prosecution of the criminals at origin. As a delivery skipper it would be advisable to contact the destination port(s) with voyage plan and ETA, being as open and professional as possible. Maybe Interpol can be contacted or the local customs/police asked to clear the vessel before sailing. Legal insurance is advised though I suppose, difficult for many jurisdictions. Definitely forget about silly notions of a carefree life of total freedom at someone else´s expense. That situation never existed in reality.
    Cruise ships are also a common route for drug trafficking. A recent case involved a Canadian female sentenced to 8 years in Australia for involvement with cocaine. She was an active Instagram user, enjoying and publicising the celebrity of a long Atlantic/Pacific cruise at a young age.
    http://www.news.com.au/national/courts-law/prison-sentence-for-instagram-star-cruise-ship-cocaine-importer/news-story/02623e7f5dde98ab11de518aaad7a682

    1. Hullo Ivan,

      Thanks for your comment and for the additional stories.

      I’ve tried to find out what happened to the cargo. I’m told that it was burned – but I don’t know whether there were witnesses to the operation.
      Twenty years ago I would have belived the word of the government of the police on this issue, but things have changed a lot. In the social climate which now pertains in Cabo Verde… well, let’s just say that I find it very hard to believe that on an island now notorious for its gangs and for an allegedly corrupt police force, a cargo with an estimated street value of $180,000,000 would be destroyed.

      I’m not sure if I understand your remark about “silly notions of a carefree life of toal freedom at someone else’s expense”. If you’re refering to the life of a delivery skipper or a professional yacht skipper – certainly it’s not a life free of worries and cares or of total liberty; but it is a fact that a person can earn a lot of money sailing somebody else’s boat for them. I know several people who have done it for a decade and who have now retired and bought their own boat. The surplus of their earnings has been invested, and they will not ever have to work again.
      It’s easy to see how this might appeal to a young man or to a young couple (and in every case that I’ve known it has been a couple). The idea is particularly attractive to a Brazilian sailor, as it offers him the opportunity to earn a Western wage – and a good one at that.
      (Eg. 20 years ago we met a couple who were earning £85,000 per year + two flightd each to the UK + full board (including wine). Their job consisted of keeping the 50ft catamaran in tip-top condition, and entertaining the owner and his guests when they were aboard. That might sound tiresome, but in fact the owner was a great guy – and, more to the point, he was never aboard for more than 3 months in any one year. At all other times the skipper and his wife couple cruise wherever they pleassed.)
      We meet very very few Brazilian yachts – and that’s because the average Brazilian struggles even to pay for his daily living expenses. Most ordinary Brazilians cannot hope ever to have the money to buy their own boat and cruise.

      Jill

      1. Hi Jill, It is common place for people who choose different paths to be looked at by the so called “normal” ones living a conventional life as some kind of parasite of society.

        So it does not surprise me this derogatory remark about skippers, or sea nomads like me.

        Are the drivers of tourist boats in summer resorts also to be included in this class? Maybe the airline pilots who deliver new jets from the factory are also?

    2. I remember indeed the Latvian skipper. I was on the dock watching when they searched his boat, which had, at that time, already been in Bermuda for I think a few days or maybe even a few weeks ! it was a very strange story. there was some merit to the Latvian skipper’s story, unfortunately it was impossible to prove, and him not contacting authorities after the find did not help his case.

      in the case Jill writes about however, the amount of evidence against the skipper and crew is minimal at best, and the judge seems to use his knowledge of new technologies (a gopro, really ?!?) as supposed evidence the skipper and crew were using encrypted cellphone devices to communicate.

      is there a “GoFundMe” to help these kids get out of jail with an appeal in court, an aggressive lawyer and officially demanded reports from the brasil federal police ?

      clearly the drugs were not supposed to end up in cabo verde. as the prices in brittain must be much higher than if sold in the cape verde islands.

      1. I didn’t find it very difficult to disbelieve the Latvian’s story. A friend was also there when it happened, and he told me all about it. The story was very far-fetched; and he was carrying a gun, which he had not declared.
        In the case of the Brazilians and the French skipper, there is no evidence against them. They did nothing wrong. They were just unlucky enough to be contracted to deliver a boat which – unbeknownst to them – was actually a cargo vessel for someone very unscrupulous.

        I have spoken to the mother of one of the Brazilians. She says that they are reluctant to ask for money; but I think that they anticipate some difficulty in affording a lawyer for the appeal.

        In the meantime, they have released this new video:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChEe-OqdHVk&feature=youtu.be

        Oh- and the other news is that one of the Englishmen who sailed the boat to Brazil has now been apprehended, in Spain, following the publication of an arrest warrant by the Brazilian police. So… things are happening!

    1. The most interesting and relevant one on that list is the story concerning Leonel Carvalho. I’ve heard this extraordinary tale from a friend. Apparently he’s been delivering yachts for years with no problem, but now the Brazilian police have his name on their system and want to extradite him. He was in prison in Madrid for a year, despite the fact that the Portuguese and Spanish both threw out the case!

      EXCERPT:
      “Leonel Carvalho will await, in Portugal, a judgment by the Brazilian justice system, but subject to compulsory nocturnal curfew and prohibition to leave the country for more than eight days. [By agreeing to fulfil these requirements], the Portuguese sailor avoids extradition to Brazil, where the trial is proceeding.

      Leonel do Nascimento Carvalho has been in preventive custody in Madrid since last May under an international detention order requested by the Brazilian court for alleged drug trafficking aboard a sailboat in a case that was investigated and filed [and rejected] by the Portuguese courts.

      The Portuguese sailor, 68, delivered a sailboat from Santos (Brazil) to Portugal in the summer of 2014, and was intercepted almost at the end of the voyage by the Portuguese and Spanish authorities, who made four searches of the ship. In the first three searches, nothing was found and only in the last one, carried out in September 2014, was evidence of cocaine found. However, the Department of Criminal Investigation and Action (DIAP) of Lisbon ruled that the case was closed because it considered that there was insufficient evidence to identify who introduced the narcotics, and when and where they were introduced since the traces of them were collected only through smearing.

      Almost ten thousand people signed a petition addressed to the President of the Republic asking for the release of the Portuguese citizen.”

      Read more in: https://www.cmjornal.pt/portugal/detalhe/velejador-portugues-alviado-by-estate-in-liberdade-after-passar-por-um-pesadelo

      1. Hi Jill, sorry, you were faster than me, but I still would like to add some about this case.

        The evidence they found was a tiny residue of the substance with a swab-test in a compartment they only got to with crowbars. No-one could tell when this substance would have been on board and how much of it. Fact is, the moment they intercepted him, still in international waters, it was not on board. The Portuguese Television has made a documentary about the case, which you can find here: https://www.rtp.pt/play/p4232/e335103/sexta-as-9

        Several ironies in this one.

        First of all the Portuguese Government was not able do anything as Leonel Carvalho was innocent of the crime according to their files. Would he have been guilty, they could have asked for extradition to Portugal and interfered in many ways but not for an innocent person. The Spanish, first quite helpless how to avoid extradition first asked for guarantees that Leonel Carvalho will have a fair trial, be allowed living circumstances not worse than in Spain and, should new evidence appear in trial, not be punished worse than he would be in Spain. Brazil couldn’t commit to this. So the Spanish sent the case to the Spanish High Court who instantly requested Brazil to send him back to Portugal under bail. Brazil agreed. Actually because it turned out the the judge in Brazil had watched the the above documentary. Family and Friends collected the money and transfered it to the court in Brazil.

        Brazil sent the release-order directly to the high security prison in Madrid instead of the Spanish High Court. But this is not how things work, Brazil can’t order a Spanish prison to release a prisoner. It took another week to get this sorted in a way that no trouble is lurking around the corner for him later.

        He’s lost a year of his life, probably won’t be compensated, and, although back with his family and friends at least, still can’t work. https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/pais/sexta-as-9-leonel-carvalho-em-primeira-grande-entrevista-depois-da-libertacao_v1072584

    2. Another example; https://www.cmjornal.pt/portugal/detalhe/pj-e-forcas-armadas-interceptam-14-toneladas-de-cocaina

      Later articles mention an Englishman, a Dutchman and a Croatian on board.

      1. The Spanish aduana have also arrested another yacht; I think it was last week. If I remember rightly she was sailing from Surinam to the Canaries, BUT – and here’s the crucial difference – the cargo was loaded aboard the boat while she was at sea, from a fishing boat. Moreover, the story implies that it was not even hidden.
        This is, of course, very different from the Rich Harvest story.

    3. More one. 25 June 2018. Dutch yacht ´Wall Street´ out of S. America. U.S./Croat crew. Intercepted by Spanish police off the Azores. Another 1.5 tonnes cocaine bound for Iberia.
      https://www.jn.pt/justica/videos/interior/policia-espanhola-mostra-intercecao-de-veleiro-com-1500-quilos-de-cocaina-ao-largo-dos-acores–9546674.html

    4. 85 year old narcotraficante Manuel Charlin Gama arrested 8/8/2018 in Galicia in relation to 2.5 tonnes cocaine on vessel in Madeira region.
      https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/arousa/2018/08/08/detenidos-patriarca-charlin-hijo-melchor-chale-vilanova/00031533722710664300898.htm
      Gama and son released 10/8/2018. Twelve others held.
      https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/vigo/2018/08/10/manuel-charlin-hijo-melchor-quedan-libertad-cargos/0003_201808201808101533885552166.htm

  3. I, for one, am completely disinclined to sign petitions based upon articles and opinion pieces, whether they be in hard print, electronic format, television. radio, or word of mouth. Ain’t gong to happen without something more substantial than the tears and wishes of relatives and friends who just know that the convicted person was falsely charged because he or she was not that sort.

    1. Hullo Brian,

      As I’ve pointed out in the article, this has nothing to do with my opinion. It has absolutely nothing to do with “the tears and wishes of the relatives”. This is about the legal requirement for PROOF.
      If it should ever be your misfortune to be arrested for a crime that you did not commit, would you not be rather upset if the judge locked you up depsite a lack of proof?
      And would you not be rather disappointed in your fellow travellers and fellow sailors if we just shrugged our shoulders and moved on?

      The judge, in Mindelo, has rejected the evidence presented by the Brazilian police – which evidence found that the cargo was almost certainly loaded before the men were aboard the boat.
      The judge has ignored the fact that the owner of the boat (or rather, the man posing as the owner) was being tracked by the British police.
      The judge has ignored the words of the Cape Verdean police, who say that they don’t know who put the cargo aboard.
      He has ignored the fact that the cargo was so well hidden that the Brazilian police failed to find it even by the use of sniffer dogs.
      He has ignored the fact that no rational person would hide a valuable cargo in a secret compartment, enlist some complete strangers to deliver it, and then tell them what they were carrying.

      WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE, the judge has decided that the cargo was definitely put aboard by the four accused men.
      Moreover, he has stated that the skipper recieved a payment, citing as his evidence the fact that new funds arrived in the acount of that man. As explained (in the article) those new funds came from the sale of a boat, and the skipper has a receipt to prove it. But the judge has ignored this proof.

      The judge has also said that, certainly, no one would ever sail across the ocean without being paid. That is a statement which should ring alarm bells for those of us who cross oceans for the fun of it!

      I have read that in mediaeval times, a person discovered on the scene of a crime was very likely to be considered the perpetrator. This satisfied the public’s lust for vengeance.
      Is the system of justice in Cape Verde really no more advanced than the one which used to burn women as witches if they floated?

      1. Aniete Dantas

        Congratulations, Mrs. Jill. Very clear explanation for the events. Ignorance of pre-trial people is still a problem for all of us.

    2. Hi Brian,
      We invite you to know better the history and background of each sailor and skipper related to this case. I am sure you would change your mind. Not cause they are just nice people and they were doing their job honestly, but mostly cause they are kind of people that world needs to be a better world. What they did already in life to make it a better world – even young – the majority people won´t be able to do in whole life.
      I Invite you to know better about them. Thank you.

  4. People meet dockside and become fast friends or even get married. They learn to sail, they learn to cook, they have exciting voyages. Sometimes crews part as friends sometimes they part on unfriendly terms due to misunderstandings about work load and watch schedules.

    Yet always there is an undercurrent of skullduggery and smuggling. Foreign courts are often a joke to the civilized world. The local cops want the credit and often they also want the drugs. Who gave the tip? Follow the money.

    One incident in the tropics involved a port district with only sixteen adult males but the police were unable to solve the crime. Seems strange. One victim of a River Pirate(sic) reported the crime to the local police (which involved the payment of a ‘transcription fee’ to the receptionist to take down their names and the presentation of documents (US twenty dollar bills) to the police chief. The yachtsman and his wife realized that little progress would be made on the case when they each realized one of the policemen appeared to be the father of one of the men who had boarded their yacht.

    Any new interior work or newly installed equipment should always be carefully inspected. Seized drugs rarely get destroyed though often identical bags of sand are burned with great fanfare and record keeping.

  5. Fascinating. Extremely well-written, offering both a compelling description of events and serious food for thought to us yachties.

  6. Re: Bradley comment, courts and legal judgements in the ´civilised world´are very often a ´joke´ too. Good examples from the British Justice system are the wrongful convictions of the ´Birmingham six´and the ´Guildford four´in the 1970s. We could contrast those events with the results of the enquiry into the actions of the British Government in relation to the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, where the then Prime Minister was basically found guilty on ample evidence and released.
    In the case in question, it´s likely that any judge in such circumstances would be acting under threat of his life and that of his family, from the managers of the local and international narcotics business.
    I sense the effect on family and friends of unfortunate people trapped in such cases is often much greater than that of the incarcerated themselves. They are young men, out seeking adventure in the world and they have certainly found it or it them. Not the adventure they anticipated perhaps, but there are positives to all the twists and turns of fate. Many a best selling book was born or written in a prison cell. Freedom is often over-rated. How many of us are truly free? Is life in Brasil or the Cabo Verdes free? The spirit of enterprising men is nurtured in such places, free from much of the background noise of media and the constant bombardment of propaganda as news. They have time for contemplation. Perhaps they will emerge with the truth that money or wealth has no value and will learn to `have little thought of self and as few desires as possible.` Learn to `embrace the uncarved block.` Then, they will be closer to free men.

    1. Interesting comment, Ivan.
      I have often thought that if I should ever find myself loccked up for ten years, then I would be able to devote myself entirely to meditation. No dishes to wash; no laundry; no cooking… no distractions.
      However, I suspect that the reality is rather different, particularly when the prison in question is in a third-world country. I’m told that the men share their living space with convicted murderers and other violent characters. Also, the families report that they do not get enough to eat.

      I suspect that freedom is only over-rated by those of us who are free. Certainly, Olivier had been living a life of freedom, doing as he pleased, for a long time. He is about 50. After a career in the army, he relocated to Brazil some 15 years ago, and after building his own boat he was using her for charters. He was just about to go to Thailand to build another boat. Certainly, he is a man who appreciates the wide open spaces and sunshine….
      I think that for him, more even than for the others, this sentence is very very hard.

      Daniel Guerra, too, had already realised that life is for living. He had already declared that he was not interested in money; he prefered to explore the world. However, I suspect that you are right when you say (or imply) that he and young Rodrigo will make the most of things. Oh, and Daniel Dantas (aged 43) has already started writing a novel!

      I’m told that Daniel Guerra is doing a lot of reading. If anybody would like to send him any worthwhile or profound or encouraging literature, in either Portuguese or English, I can find an address which will reach him. Ditto the others, of course. (Olivier is French but is also fluent in both Portuguese and English.)

  7. Hi Jill,
    My husband and I were recently in Brazil, Illiana Bella to be exact. While there we stayed in an Airbnb that was run by a close friend of one of the crew. He told us this story and that he was traveling to Africa to testify on behalf of his friend. The story seemed a little far fetched, I mean Mr. Fox? Come on. With a name like that and a story like that……. I was shocked to read your write up. The story we were told was almost exactly the same as the story you wrote. The only detail we missed was the engine fire. The Airbnb host told us that he had been offered a spot on the crew, but had turned it down because of a personal conflict. He had felt upset that he was not able to join them and then when word got to them off the arrest, he felt relieved that he wasn’t able to make the trip.

    Based on that experience, I am inclined to believe that the crew did not know of the drugs.

    Thanks for writing about this. It is a solid warning to all. If there is anything I can do to assist this crew, with in reason, please reach out to me.

    Rachel

    1. Goodness! Your friend was lucky!
      I reckon that Gean could also very easily have been on the boat. He hates to fly and was looking for a ride to Europe. The ad appeared just a couple of weeks after he gave up that quest and got on a plane. If the timing had been just a tiny bit different, we would now be in Cape Verde feeding him buns through the bars!

      There is absolutely no way that the crew can have known about the cargo. Imagine that you have an incredibly valuable cargo that you want to smuggle into Europe. You’ve hidden it very well – you’ve even made it look as if the cargo is going to be loaded but is not yet aboard – but you still don’t want to risk your own freedom; so you place an ad for crew. WHY, in heaven’s name, would you tell them what they’re carrying?!!! It just makes no sense – and that judge must have known it. Your friend’s experience is one more ounce in a huge pile of evidence which shows that the crew are innocent – and there’s basically NOTHING on the other side of the scales.

      As regards doing anything for the men – I think the main thing at the moment is to share the story, by whatever means, and let the world know that these guys have been wrongly convicted. They have been convicted despite the conclusions of the Brazilian police and depsite the self-professed lack of knowledge of the Cape Verdean police.

      I imagine that there will be an appeal against the sentence, and if there is, I will share that information.
      I do know that the families are having quite a struggle, financially as well as emotionally. Besides paying for lawyers on both sides of the ocean, they have had to relocate to Sao Vicente and rent a room; and obvioulsy, while doing this they are not earning any money. However, I don’t think they have yet made any appeal for financial assistance from the public.

    2. Aniete Dantas

      Rachel
      This young man you met in Ilhabella, São Paulo, is Francisco. He actually came to Africa to be a witness to the judgment. [He was one of] the sailors who came here to explain how the delivery of sailboats [works], and [to explain] the needs of the new sailors to get the “nautical miles” to reach the captain’s post, [so that these matters] have been considered by [the] justice in Cape Verde.

      I am the mother of Rodrigo Dantas. I left everything I had in Brazil and I live on the Island of São Vicente. I’ll stay here until I can take my son back to freedom. He is young and has the dream of being captain. He will not give up on this goal.

      This island depends on navigation. This island has several advantages in being a safe harbor in the Atlantic Ocean. The police and the justice department ignore all the procedures for the delivery of sailboats and do not believe that the three Brazilians were making this delivery just to gain experience.
      What crew would accept to carry a ton of drugs without carrying a weapon on the sailboat without carrying any considerable amount of money?
      When they arrived in Mindelo, the captain hoisted the yellow flag, but no authority came to the boat. After mooring at the Marina of Mindelo [with the aid of] tow boats, [the sailors] left the sailboat with no one [aboard] for several hours while they performed the stamp procedures on their passports.

      The local police, who were already investigating this sailboat, was not clever waiting to appear the real responsible for the drug. [ie. The local police were not clever enough to await the appearance of the person really responsible for loading the drugs.] They arrested the innocent. They got the drug. They got the sailboat and the personal belongings of the crew. They do not bother to look for the owner of the boat.
      And we are here, modifying our lives to save our children.

      [Edited for clarity.]

  8. This is what I think happened.
    You say that George Saul, Fox, had already been arrsted for smuggling 65k of marijhana into Spain but he was not locked up. Well that makes it look as if the police obviousy had a hold over him. So they let him go and told him to infiltrate a big gang that they told him abaout. He had to report what was going on.

    So Fox told the police about the boat and then he told them it was coming back with its cargo, but he thinks he’s a clever fox. so as well as making the tanks like you describe under the floor (which the Brazilian police found) he also made the other secret tank. He was double dealing. He told the police, but actually it was n’t where he told them it was. He found a way to keep the police happy but still earn the money from the smuggling run. Clever! Not.

    So the Brazilians searched after interpol told them to, but they found nothing. The Azores or cape verde police were supposed to do the same, and then Fox could say that they were just USELESS. He would say it had obvioulsy already been taken off the boat before they swooped!

    But unluckily for everybody the Cape Verde poolice were more determined. Theyd been told it was there and theyd already found the brother with drugs in that same port. So they went for it, and they would of took the boat tottally apart if they had to.

    The judge is a bastard. He knows very well the boys are innocent. He may be paid to find them guilty like Ivan says in his comment but i think whats more likely is he just loves power. There should be an appeal and the boys should be let go because there’s no evidence.

    I bet mister Fox is at the bottom of a lake, wearing cement boots. Or maybe there was more than one secert place, and they got the other cargo into the country!

    1. i didn´t read the part about the 65kg – where was that written? Also the part about his brother found with drugs in the same port? I can´t see these things in the article ……

      1. Hullo Rob,

        Mike has used information given in the citations, which are below the article.
        Citation number 3 says –
        “Insta salientar que na referida informação consta que George Saul seria irmão de Richard Saul, que foi preso com 1990 kilos de maconha sendo que foi posteriormente citado pela Policia Judiciária de S. Vicente que Richard foi preso justamente em um outro veleiro, denominado MAISHY STAR”
        [= It is pointed out that George Saul was the brother of Richard Saul, who was arrested with 1990 kilos of marijuana and was later summoned by the Judicial Police of St. Vincent. Richard was arrested in another boat called MAISHY STAR]
        See also 2017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO II pgs.71-72; and Document 3 (2017 – IPL 1070 – APENSO III – VOL I) pg.4. This same page also states that George Saul was previously arrested in Holland, aboard a yacht called Carissa, with 60kg cannabis – but it provides no evidence for this assertion and nor does it explain why, if he was guilty, he was not imprisoned.”

        I guess there must be a reason why he was not arrested on that occasion, and Mike’s theory provides a reason. It also seems to fit the other facts.

        I don’t know the answers to the other questions which you asked previously, so I’ve passed them on to the family and they will contact you.
        All the best,
        Jill

  9. A friend of mine got himself into a very different kind of situation.
    After having overstayed his welcome in Tahiti (3.5 years) he left to sail his boat to Hawaii (he’s a professional surfer and also builds and sells surfboards). En route he got hit by severe weather, blown off course, nearly lost his boat and finally limped into Kirimati (in the Island-Group of Kiribati) to find shelter, repair his boat and sail on to Hawaii.
    At the time him and his girlfriend were on board, he had just sold several boards before leaving Tahiti, so the two of them carried 15.000 $ US in cash on the boat. Knowing nothing about the legal obligations in Kiribati, as this stop was not planned, they declared the money upon arrival. Instantly the authorities got suspicious, searched the boat and actually found the tiny amount of 0.03 gram of grass on board. Joao got arrested and put in prison, and the boat seized. Accusation: being part of a criminal organisation, drugsmuggling and having too much cash on the boat.
    Although his girlfriend got released short afterwards and was allowed to return home, Joao had to await his trial which took ages. He was not allowed to communicate with his family or a lawyer. A passing yachtsman called with his Satellite-phone to inform his family. Only twice a year the judge comes over from the main Island to deal with the local cases. Several times the trial had to be postponed as the weather didn’t allow a flight to land on the Island or because the judge was ill. Circumstances in the local prison were quite hard, later he was allowed to stay in the local hotel (where the bills kept eating his money rapidly).
    Finally the trial came to happen. The charges against him being member of a criminal organisation and drug-trafficking got dropped and changed into posession of drugs, the money nearly got spent on the island, so it was down to a fine. He got released and his boat also.

    The international press jumped instantly on the drug-dealing bit, but of course never reported anything about the outcome.

    More info’s here: http://www.surfportugal.pt/noticias-surf-portugal/9639-joaozinho-da-consolacao-retido-desde-fevereiro-no-arquipelago-de-kiribati
    and here (the page keeps changing while reading, just hit the back-button): http://www.surfportugal.pt/72-entrevistas/9640-irma-de-joaozinho-da-consolacao-esclarece-situacao-do-surfista-no-atol-de-kiritimati

    1. [Regarding the guy in Kiribati] – Sorry, forgot: although the amount of money mentioned is not correct and also the accusation of not declaring it, here’s some more info: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pacific-justice/justice-delayed-justice-denied-on-pacifics-remote-kiritimati-idUSKCN0XN2VN

  10. Enduring encarceration requires activation of the Darwinian instincts within us. These men will be extremely aware, alert and focussed on adapting to the new environment and to establishing their position in the dominance hierarchy. Are we not most alive when on the precipitous edge of life itself? Why do people climb mountains? Prisons do tend to be populated by criminals, of all kinds. Though, it is only an exaggerated form of the male environment; the boy´s school, the construction site, the mine, the barracks, the monastery. Fortunately, the male brain has evolved to adapt and deal with it. It is a more natural situation, in terms of evolutionary psychology, than spending weeks at sea.

    Have you considered the possibility of breaking the rules within a prison system and so arranging solitary confinement, to better facilitate meditation, whilst improving personal safety through isolation? As a woman you have little chance of being locked away, 95% of the prison population being male, because laws are written and used to penalise male behaviour.

    On the nutrition issue, is there a mother alive who thinks her son is eating enough? We know the body reacts to reduced caloric intake by lowering the metabolic rate, to compensate. Periodic famine is, historically, a natural part of human experience and scientific work is being done on periodic fasting or fasting mimicking as a potential tool in cancer prevention and to aid longevity, by triggering autophagy. The chronically fed state is unnatural and not healthy.

    Suggested reading;
    1. ´Crime and Punishment´ – Dostoyevsky
    To better understand the minds of the other inmates and so anticipate their behaviours. Dostoyevsky was an ex-convict, proof positive that the prison experience can produce the greatest works of literature ever written. He observed that even in the most backward people, the legal punishment for crime is less frightening and operative than the psychological need to accept suffering and expiate the deed.

    2. ´Tao Te Ching´ – Lao Tzu (D.C. Lau & other translations)
    For dealing with the loss of pleasurable activity and acheiving a balanced and harmonious existence. Full of ancient wisdom such as;
    ´The court is corrupt.`
    ´Ensure that the people will be reluctant to move to distant places because they look on death as no light matter.´
    ´It is because people set too much store by life that they treat death lightly. It is just because one has no use for life that one is wiser than the man who values life.´
    ´He who is fearless in being bold will meet with his death. He who is fearless in being timid will stay alive.´
    ´In the pursuit of learning one knows more every day. In the pursuit of the way one does less every day. One does less and less until one does nothing at all, and when one does nothing at all there is nothing that is undone.´
    `He who knows contentment is rich.´
    `There is no crime greater than having too many desires.`

    3. ´The Hacking of the American Mind´ – Robert Lusdig MD (paediatric endocrinologist)
    To understand how feeding desire and the pursuit of pleasure blocks the attainment of happiness and contentment at the level of brain biochemistry.

    Mike has an interesting mind. I suspect that the hens in one´s coop would be under some degree of insecurity if Mike was in the vicinity, figuratively speaking. Straight out of a Guy Richie film.

    1. Goodness….! You certainly have an interesting mind, too, Ivan!

      “Have you considered the possibility of breaking the rules within a prison system and so arranging solitary confinement, to better facilitate meditation, whilst improving personal safety through isolation?”
      I have, indeed! If I should ever find myself in this situation I will look for a way of winning solitary confinement without increasing the length of my sentence.

      “As a woman you have little chance of being locked away”
      I’m pretty sure that this judge would have locked me away, too, if I’d happened to be amongst the crew.

  11. Not wanting to point out the obvious but Rich Harvest the off shore off licence ran by Berriman, that would be the guy who got off being sent to prison for the largest smuggling of canabis into the UK by saying his family was under death threats by a gang in (Tyneside if I remember correctly) the UK..
    The same guy who in 2015 released a book about it and his innocence hahaha.

    [EDITED in order to protect the identity of persons not under investigation by the police.]

    1. Hi James,
      I am just curious how you know that [EDITED to protect the identity of people not under police investigation] the boat was under investigation because of Berriman?

    2. Hello James,

      You’ve left some interesting information here but it really is important that you back up your claims with either sources or some sort of provenance. Without these we could claim that Mr Fox is a convicted murderer or bank robber and everyone would be asked to assume in blind faith that this were true, distorting the real potential of this article which is to find the truth in this situation and help to ensure the release of these 4 men.

      Any information that isn’t authenticated could potentially lead to efforts and resources being diverted down the wrong channels of investigation and therefore delaying justice. There are already quite a substantial number of inconsistencies between the many articles out there on this case.

      also relatively young in comparison to Berrimen and although subjective we can also say that he isn’t altogether unfortunate aesthetically speaking.
      Something that springs to mind here is that Mr Berriman appears to be a rather overweight, unattractive and dislikable character (having read extracts from his own books I can ascertain this although it’s a matter of opinion). Mr Fox on the other hand, regardless of all else that has been said about him, has been described as charming and charismatic.

      [EDITED in order to protect the idenity of persons not under police investigation.]

      With respect James unless you can add further information or credibility to this claim I’m rather inclined to think you are mistaken and that that the information that you have written is in accurate. Please do correct me if you feel that I am wrong.

      It is important that we the readers we are not misled by immaculate claims so that we are allowed to form our own opinions based on fact rather than fiction which I’m sure would be the wishes of both the reader the author of this article.

      All the best, Marcus

  12. http://noticiasdonorte.publ.cv/77199/fox-o-suspeito-de-ser-dono-da-cocaina-apreendia-com-os-velejadores-brasileiros-foi-detido-em-italia/

    In June the Brazilian police finally put out an arrest warrant for the men whom they consider to be actually responsible for the cargo which was found aboard Rich Harvest.
    Just two days later, Robert Delbos was arrested, in Spain.

    And now GEORGE ‘FOX’ SAUL had been arrested!

    Things are looking up!

    1. George's partner

      I’m quite hurt by this article. There are so many comments which are completely incorrect. And your suspicions are not evidence. It’s very misleading and manipulative.

      So much of the report from Brazil is also incorrect. Many of their “facts” are completely rubbish and there is solid evidence to show this.

      George was very fond of the boys, especially Daniel and he has tried to help the boys but has been stopped. I was the one who suggested that he hired a crew instead of sailing back himself, for many reasons, including his health.

      George has Cystic Fibrosis and the sail over completely drained him. It took months of intense care to get him back to being OK again. He did the sail because it’s his passion and he wanted to complete a big sea before his body couldn’t take it.

      There is so much I can say which can turn all of what you’ve written around, and show what type of man George really is (a much better human being than you it seems!) but I’m completely exhausted and this article isn’t evidence nor will it help with the case.

      I really don’t know what’s happened but it’s very sad that the boys have been put in prison without evidence. George as I mentioned has tried to fight for the boys because he feels in his heart that Daniel couldn’t have done this. Daniel is kind and loving and they grew to be friends. George could not do anything though. Lawyers told him not to go to Cape Verde and the police, having called them several times, never called back.

      George is suffering tremendously since being arrested. Things are not looking up, as you very rudely have said. He is dying very quickly in there as they won’t give him the correct medicine. I’m sure this is music to your ears, but it certainly isn’t to mine or his family.

      Have you ever considered that he and his boat was used? Have you ever thought that this operation is most likely done very often by an organisation that could also involve the police in Brazil? This isn’t a simple, lets go to a warehouse of cocain and sell it for a quick dollar or whatever it is that happens. This seems like a regular thing as there is always cocain on the streets so where does it come from? Do you think George, if you’re saying what he is, does this every day and is part of it? Why on earth would he work so hard and train to be an electrician if he was this person? Also, do you really think he would write his own name on the packages? ‘if lost, please return to fox’… Seems bizzare! He doesn’t even let me have the heating on in the winter because the electric bill goes up, nor the air conditioning in the summer. Again, if he was this person you’re saying, I surely would have got more than a baby Praying Mantis that he found on the floor for my 30th birthday! That’s who George is. He’s a tight bas**rd, he’s not part of some movie type cartel person.

      I know I’ve said some nasty things about you Jill – I’m just so very hurt by all of this. A lot of what you’ve written isn’t true and you haven’t for a second considered the other side.

      I beg you to stop and take this down. I know this is fun and exciting for you, but you’re really damaging the lives of real people.

      1. You are very much mistaken. Writing this article was not “fun and exciting”. It was very, very time consuming as I had to read through all of the documents – most of which are only available in Portuguese – and I had to liase, in Portuguese, with the family of the convicted men.

        I wrote it because the lives of four men, and the lives of those men’s family, are being damaged; so I wanted to do something to try to help them.

        You say that “it’s very sad that the boys have been put in prison without evidence”… – but that is a fantastic understatment! It is not “sad”; it is outrageous!

        The fact that George ‘Fox’ Saul has now been arrested is, most certainly, good news. It means that investigations in Brazil will eventually be able to proceed. If he is innocent then he – and you – have nothing to fear, surely?

      2. SHEZANA, If George is a nice person as you say, how did he disappear when HIS boat was found with 1 ton cocaine? Why did not he go to Cape Verde to be next to HIS crew and too clarify the situation? Why his brother is also acccused to transport mahiruana in UK? Why was he already in the jail once? Com’on you do not know him well or you are his partener in the crime too! If his is a good person as you said it, now he has the chance to clarify why he is friend of one of the most drug dealers in the world and what kind of business he does ecxatly!
        All what the police in Brazil said is under evidence and you can also help to clarify that, or not? Or he buys a boat make many constructions on it and he does not know why he did that? And do not worry you gonna have anough time to clarify everything to the police too. Did you see that last week more than 1 ton of cocaine was found ready to be shipped to Europe with FOX name on it? ahhh, again they did a mistake? Why he uses FOX as the only name in Brazil? You should know he well, right? I know you well! OPEN YOUR EYES and all this friends that you have spending money like nobody else matter in the world! OPEN YOUR EYES! If you are really worried about to save lives of good people in the world, comes to Brasil again and clarify all you have been done here too and give freedom to the honest mens who FOX put in jail. if YOU suggested to him to hide a crew, so you are the correct person who know, better than nobody, that the crew are innocent!

  13. James was jumping to incorrect conclusions as have many people. It’s great gossip though! (although total rubbish)

    [EDITED to preserve the identity of persons not under investigation by the police.]

    1. It’s crazy the number of yachts they’re finding recently with drugs aboard! Either there’s a sudden, huge increase in such cargoes, or else, more probably, the police have suddenly infiltrated some chain.

  14. I saw an article where it said that george saul fox was released from prison in Italy. Do you know anything about this?

    1. Yes, I checked with the family of young Rodrigo Dantas, and it is true.
      Seemingly, the Brazilian extradition process takes 120 days, but under Italian law a person may only be held for 40 days without trial. Talk about a cock-up!

      Fox’s girlfriend will be pleased. (Assuming it really is his girlfriend who posted that earlier comment…) I’ve been told that she is completely innocent and knows nothing about what her man gets up to.

      Meanwhile, whoever it was who shopped the Fox must now be running for his life – or so I would assume.

      And whoever is behind the operation is still running drugs across the ocean – or so it would seem from the number of arrests made recently.

      What a mess! And all the while, four innocent men are still locked up in small concrete cells, with hardly even a glimpse of the blue sky. I sometimes wonder if there is not more injustice than justice in this world.

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