Searching for Colombian Gold

A cutter chases drug smugglers on the high seas

The Caribbean today is the theater for a naval war. At stake are the sea lanes through which in 1980 passed 20 million lbs. of Colombian gold—marijuana worth $16 billion on the street. Challenging the smuggling fleets with a thin, stalwart line of vessels is the U.S. Coast Guard. Since January the Coast Guard has intercepted and seized 779,847 lbs. of marijuana, with a market value of $273 million. The best record of interceptions is held by Dauntless, a 210-ft.-long cutter with a crew of 85; 40 marijuana leaves have been painted on...

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