AMERICANA: Finders Keepers

Many people have accused governments of piracy, but few have as good cause as Melvin Fisher. In 1971 Fisher, 56, located a Spanish galleon that sank off the coast of Florida in 1622 carrying 47 tons of gold and silver. Since then, he and his company have been diving for the treasure, which could be worth as much as $600 million. The mission's cost so far: $5 million and four lives, including that of Fisher's son.

Otherwise, the salvaging was going smoothly, 40 miles off the coast of Florida, until the state government ran up the Jolly Roger and...

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