Americana: Pot's Big Payoff

They go aloft in spiffy Cessna 310s and cruise the highways in Cadillacs and Lincolns. In bays and harbors, they make waves with rakish speedboats and cabin cruisers. They are Florida's modestly paid drug agents; yet their planes, cars and boats are among the best that money can buy—certainly better than the usual Government issue. For good reason. The expensive equipment once belonged to the smugglers themselves.

By law in Florida, which is the biggest entry point for illegal narcotics from South America, agents must take possession of all transport seized in drug busts. The officers may, in many cases, keep the...

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