Danger of arrest

Is seafarers regarded guilty until proven innocent?
This case is from Mexico, but only one example of many, even in countries that claim to have rule of law and fair trial:

The presumption of innocence does not mean that an accused cannot be detained pending trial.

A cynic might say “The master knew the stuff was there; but when his snoopy CM discovered it he had to take a bold gamble in an attempt to throw off suspicion.”

A different cynic might say “The master should have known that the police would be insulted by the puny bribe he offered, and descend on him from a great height to teach him some respect.”

Someone should tell the cynic that drugs are found on ships across the globe several times a week & locking the Master & whole crew up (the same people who reported it to the authorities) is unheard of.

I’m surprised the Masters ransom hasn’t been paid yet. The secretary in Poland should quit wasting his time with a valueless petition & start a GoFundme page to raise the money to payoff whatever corrupt officials in Mexico that is holding him hostage. It’s probably the same official who is upset that the cartel he belongs to lost a 240kilo shipment of cocaine back in August.


We tend to forget that in places like Mexico, this is a business transaction, not “law and order”. Just make a counter-offer and get on with it :roll_eyes:

In America we have a presumption of innocence.

In France (and many other countries) there is a presumption of guilt. It’s up to the accused to prove his innocence, if he can.

If you want to see an absurdly dysfunctional criminal justice system, just look at Italy. Remember: the Amanda Knox saga? Or Schittino?

Mexico is a large beautiful country with enormous natural resources, and full of hardworking, friendly people yearning to be free and prosperous, but it is also failed state run by kleptocrats and narco-terrorists.


Some time back a ship was arrested in Mexico when the company got into financial strife. I think the port was Vera Cruz (1983?). They took everyone’s passports and port passes. After three months with the ship running out of food they sailed in the middle of the night for Brownsville, Texas. The crew was arrested and deported. The Italian master said that he had a credit card that would pay for his flight home but not having a passport they were held at a place of work where they weren’t being paid.
The lesson is be careful who you work for

The “get on with it” part might take a long time. The Polish I know are great, hard working people but as stubborn as a dead mule.

Not quite one hundred percent. The good ol’ boy mentality still exists in some remote areas of Texas. If “you ain’t from around here” and you are accused of a crime by a local, no matter how improbable his story is, the sheriff will throw you in jail from where you’ll have to fight the presumption of guilt against a rigged so called “legal” system. Don’t ask how I learned this very expensive lesson.

Remember when Governor Lester Maddox put up a billboard at the state line and posed beside it? It said “Welcome to Georgia. Don’t get fleeced in a clip joint. Don’t get caught in a speed trap.” Made national news, otherwise I would never have known about it.

Missed that one

When you get down to smaller boats, even in the USA you will have one hell of a time proving you didn’t know Fred the Smuggler had dope on him.

Even in the U.S. “innocent until proven guilty” is more of an ideal than reality. Merely being accused of a crime can result in suspension w/out pay or even outright job loss, loss of reputation, and total financial ruin. The assumption too many people make is that if you’re charged then you must be guilty and, even if later you are found not guilty or have the charges dropped altogether, the cloud of suspicion can follow you around for a long time.


Look into the asset forfeiture program abuses for examples of miscarrriage of justice. Loosely based on old maritime law, it allows law enforcement to strip you of all your assets without charging you for a crime.

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Excellent description. . .

I spent quite a bit of time in Mexico years ago and enjoyed it a lot. As long as you avoided the areas where the narcos operated, it was safe. Things have gone downhill since. As the country is sinking into a failed state, it is much more dangerous.


This is not about Mexico only, it is a wold wide problem, incl. in the US where seafarers gets arrested and charged regularly for offences that is not always attributable to that person. Masters and Chief Engineers may be especially at risk.

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I think it’s one of the many issues that arise because even though marine shipping is by far the cheapest form of transport on earth, the individual sums involved are staggering.

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