The S.S. Smooth Operator is an Australian flag cruise ship that was sailing 180 nautical
miles off the coast of Maryland on the night of October 24, 2021. While most of the
passengers were enjoying themselves relaxing on the main deck, two passengers—
Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean– were working hard below deck. Both Canadian
nationals, Underwood and Aldean were members of the notorious Cicotta crime
syndicate, and they were developing a plan to smuggle millions of dollars of conflict
diamonds into the United States.
But unbeknownst to Underwood and Aldean, the US Coast Guard had been monitoring
them ever since they boarded the Smooth Operator in Halifax. Indeed, with the help of
the US Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard learned that Underwood and
Aldean had been texting colleagues to coordinate a smuggling run later that night. In an
effort to stop that operation in its tracks, Coast Guard authorities ordered the US Coast
Guard cutter, the USS Chasing After You, to begin pursuing the Smooth Operator while
it was 180 miles off the coast of Maryland.
The Captain of the Smooth Operator, Australian national, Natalia Imbruglia, was torn,
but decided to submit to being boarded. But when Underwood learned of Captain
Imbruglia’s willingness to cooperate with the Coast Guard, Underwood immediately shot
and killed Imbruglia and took the helm herself. Unfortunately for her, Underwood was
not a skilled ship pilot and was only able to maneuver a few more miles before the
Smooth Operator was apprehended by the Chasing After You at a point 210 nautical
miles off the coast of Maryland.
Shortly after the Smooth Operator was stopped, Coast Guard officers boarded the
vessel and arrested Underwood and Aldean and transported them back to Maryland.
Once back in Maryland, Underwood and Aldean were brought before Federal
Magistrate, The Honorable Doja Cat, in Baltimore and charged with violations of US
Customs law relating to diamond smuggling. Additionally, Underwood was charged with
As the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, you have been asked by U.S.
Attorney Sade Adu to address three international legal questions in preparation for the
case. First, under international law, does the United States have prescriptive jurisdiction
over Underwood and Aldean for the crime of conspiring to smuggle. Second, under
international law, does the United States have prescriptive jurisdiction over Underwood
for the crime of murder. Third, under international law, are the any impediments to the
United States asserting enforcement jurisdiction over Underwood and Aldean given that
they were seized outside US territory and brought to the US against their will?
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