Want to Get Away with It? Commit Your Crime in International Waters

Welcome to another fact I’ve learned by writing fiction.

This concerns what happens when a beautiful fifteen-year-old girl disappears after attending a yacht  party in the Portuguese Azores Islands. In Spine Damage, book four of the Aimee Machado Mystery series, family connections motivate Aimee to find the missing Azorean girl, but research into crime on the high seas reveals a stark reality. When crimes are committed in international waters, the victims often have no recourse.

A few years ago, Somalian pirates were making international headlines that resulted in Tom Hanks being cast to portray the captain of the hijacked Maersk Alabama—the case on which the movie Captain Phillips was based.

But piracy is just one example of crimes on the high seas. The list is long, and the highly diverse range of criminal activities are often underreported. It includes theft, rape and murder aboard cruise lines and private sailing vessels; drug smuggling and human trafficking; and illegal poaching of marine wildlife. And even today, unsuspecting citizens of poor countries are being shanghaied onto vessels where they’re forced to work under brutal conditions. Those who complain are likely to disappear.

What legal safeguards are in place to protect victims against these crimes?

www.britannica.com states in part:

“. . . maritime countries essentially control their territorial waters from the shore out to a distance of 12 miles . . . Within this zone, all laws of that country apply. With respect to international crimes [beyond the 12-mile limit] . . . any country or international organization can theoretically claim authority over the matter using the concept of universal jurisdiction . . . and try the assailants in their own national (or international) courts. Since the laws of individual countries and international courts are not recognized by all countries, however, there is often no fully accepted referee. Government officials in one country might choose not to recognize the legal authority of another.”

Back to our story . . .

Aimee is distressed by what she learns about crime in international waters, so she and her gang of crime-solvers travel from Timbergate, California to the mid-Atlantic Azores Islands and back seeking clues. Meanwhile, the missing teen’s fate remains unknown. Relentless pursuit of the truth finally uncovers the crime, but is it too little, too late?

For more information on crime in international waters, visit these sites:

https://www.britannica.com/story/are-there-laws-on-the-high-seas

http://mentalfloss.com/article/51708/are-high-seas-criminal-paradise

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/07/23/sailing-beyond-the-rule-of-law/fight-high-seas-crime-with-accountability-and-commitment-to-prosecute

https://crimereads.com/crime-on-the-high-seas/

Visit www.sharonstgeorge.com again soon for another fact I’ve learned while writing fiction. 

Books in the hospital-based Aimee Machado Mysteries are published by Camel Press (an imprint of Epicenter Press) and are available for purchase in print and eBook format from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and from your local bookstore.

http://camelpress.com

Heavy Traffic Got You Down? It’s Worse Than You Think!

While channel surfing the other day, I happened to land for a few moments on a program where a lovely twenty-eight-year-old Pakistani woman named Nelufar Hedayat was being interviewed. She spoke about a series titled The Traffickers on the Fusion Channel. My interest was aroused, as I had just finished the fourth book in my Aimee Machado Mystery series.

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In my book, titled Spine Damage, a fifteen-year-old Portuguese girl goes missing from her home on an Azorean island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after she makes the mistake of accepting an invitation to a yacht party.

I can’t reveal here what happens to my character, a lovely, naïve and headstrong teenager named Liliana Ferrera, as that would be a spoiler, and the book isn’t due for release until May of 2017. What I can say is that I wish more attention were being paid to the devastating impact every sort of illegal trafficking makes on countries around the world, including the United States of America.

Not once during the recent, seemingly endless presidential campaign, did I hear a candidate express a workable solution to the problem of trafficking, whether the merchandise is drugs, stolen art, rhino horns, or human beings (often children) who are sold for purposes of slave labor or for sex. Nor did I hear any reference to the illegal trade in black market organs.

Yes, there was mention of building a wall. Of course, Paul Revere could have reminded us that not all invasions come by land. A wall will not stop drug boats from reaching our shores, or freighters from docking in our harbors laden with containers (only a fraction of which are searched). And how many airplanes touch down in our country on remote landing strips? What about autos and foot traffic arriving from the north? Will we build a second wall from coast to coast along the Canadian border?

I hold the fictional answers to lovely Liliana’s fate, but what of the thousands of real-life human souls who have been taken from their homes and forced into a black-market world, or the flood of other illicit trade that feeds the appetites of criminal buyers in this country and others throughout the world? For more on this subject, watch Nelufar Hedayat on the Fusion channel on Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m..  http://fusion.net/page/the-traffickers/

Will an innocent, trusting young teen be rescued in time? Find out when Spine Damage, book four in the Aimee Machado Mystery series, is released in May of 2017. And in book five, we’ll continue the theme with a mystery surrounding illegal organ harvesting. Meanwhile, the first three books in the series are available in print and e-book versions by shopping online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or upon request at your local bookstore.