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James E. Mercante

The art of smuggling at sea can provide profit or pain. Sort of like trick or treat. This leads us to the front door of James Horace Alderman, a notorious smuggler whose only disguise was a fast boat. Alderman was revered as the “King of the Rum Runners” while the law tagged him as the “Gulf Stream Pirate.” After years of success during the prohibition era, Alderman’s downfall occurred nearly a century ago, on Aug. 27, 1927, while traveling from Bahamas to Florida aboard a speedboat laden with liquor. Alderman v. United States, 31 F.2d 499 (5th Cir. 1929), cert. den., 279 U.S. 869 (1929). A U.S. Coast Guard cutter spotted Alderman’s speedboat and ordered him to a halt with shots across his bow. Alderman and his captain ignored the Coast Guard’s first warning shots, but eventually stopped the engine once he realized the Coasties weren’t fooling around when the cutter began firing its machine gun.

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