When a group of men hired a chartered fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico, they expected to return after a few hours with some good memories and a few fish. Instead, they got a 17-hour trip from hell complete with booze, cocaine, and guns.
According to reports, the group hired a 36-year-old skipper named Mark Bailey in Sarasota, Florida. They boarded the Double Marker at 7 a.m. on June 2. The plan was to motor some 60 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, spend a few hours out fishing, and return to shore by 7 p.m. that evening. What happened, though, was more of a hostage situation than anything else. The passengers alleged that Bailey “held them captive for 12 hours as he drank copious amounts of beer and Captain Morgan rum, got high, and fired off rounds of shots from a gun.”
Written statements provided to news outlets by the Sarasota Police Department detail a harrowing ordeal. One of the passengers, Carlo Lopepano, told police he saw Bailey drinking straight from a bottle of Captain Morgan and drinking “an unknown number of beers.” While drinking on a fishing charter isn’t anything new, snorting cocaine, threatening your passengers, and firing a gun in the air is. According to police reports, that’s exactly what happened. “We were [definitely] all in fear for our lives,” Lopepano wrote.
The charter passengers alleged that Bailey refused to go back to shore when they requested. Instead, he drove the boat in circles for hours. “I became very unsettled and the situation became very sketchy,” passenger Christopher Guiffre wrote in his police statement.
In one particularly frightening incident, The Herald-Tribune reported that at around 2 p.m., Lopepano sent his nephew, Jason Rialmo Jr., to get him a beer. Bailey “became angry with Lopepano’s 15-year-old nephew and proceeded to rip his chain off his neck and threatened to shoot everyone in the head.”
Bailey then called Giuffre Jr. up to the second deck to talk to him and said, “I have a 9 mm and if I want, I will put a bullet in each of your heads and leave you out here.”
Because the vessel was in an area with no cell service, the passengers weren’t able to call the police for help. Bailey continued to drive the boat farther into the Gulf while the group continued fishing. As one would expect, though, the mood on the boat was dark. After another 45 minutes, the passengers asked to return to shore. Bailey appeared to agree, but instead of taking them back, he began to drive aimlessly in circles. “We had no control and no way to get back,” Guiffre said. “I believe he didn’t want to dock completely wasted and was buying time.”
After more than 11 hours the authorities were alerted. More than a dozen Sarasota police and Coast Guard officers intercepted the boat in the marina at 1 a.m., almost 17 hours after they left.
Buzzfeed also ran a story on the incident, writing that Bailey refused orders from police and kicked a squad car before eventually complying with the officers. He was taken to jail and charged with boating under the influence and resisting without violence.
Bailey posted bail, but the Coast Guard is still investigating. After he was released from jail, Bailey sent Lopeparo a text message: “Sorry you guys had to wait around through all that,” it read. “Are you guys OK?”