If smuggling is so omni-present not just today but in our past; why has there not been an explosion in literature about the practise? Well simply put, smuggling by its very nature requires no ‘trail’ and certainly no publicity for it to be successful.
What we know of smuggling has only come down from the stupid and the foolish who couldn’t master the game. I remember living in New Jersey when a car of Columbians carrying a load of illegal drugs walked into the State Police barracks on the New Jersey Turnpike. They wanted to know if anyone was interested in buying some drugs!
Other than such incidents; the history of smuggling has been a dark and hidden affair. Socially, smuggling has always been looked down on – even though Hollywood has periodically glorified the smuggler. In Colonial America, it was widely practised but never mentioned. When Caleb Cushing (I have an original edition) published his History of Newburyport, he specifically mentions many ‘unmentionables’ in his preface; to which he pointedly will not cover in his treatise. As a lawyer, he glaringly leaves the subject of smuggling out of his discussions. And yet, the very existence and affluence of the city was founded on it!
As we will see in later posts, the Chief Smuggler always kept a wide birth from those who actually did the smuggling and even then, an intermediary was often sought to keep the two widely distanced from each other.
It was also known that a Code of Silence was to be maintained at all times. Those who violated it would often be harassed, discredited, ostracized, wrongfully accused and imprisoned and when all else failed, run out of town. This was maintained at the lower levels of the practise all the way to the top. And as anyone knows that the victor often writes (or re-writes) history so the smuggler, after gaining his ‘booty’ will try to establish himself as a ‘respectable citizen’. Organized crime will, after making gains on illegal goods regularly practises dispersing its gains into legitimate businesses. In some cases in history, the most respected citizen in the community turns out to have been the most disgusting of gangsters l0ng separating themselves from the unpleasant parts of the business.
If someone from the distant past were to jump a time machine; they would be aghast at the names now proudly posted in our society -John Hancock, John Brown, and the Kennedys.
This is why smuggling is so hard to root out. Who knows how many would be discovered or would suffer financial harm; if enforcement became too vigorous!
It’s an issue that the Federal government has to grapple and especially in New England, the state’s biggest issue – not deaths from drug use, but finding who is funding the transport of illegal drugs. Much like the organizational structure of the Illuminati, higher levels of smuggling are often hidden from the rank and file practitioner.
One uglier part is the violence that often results when enforcement occurs. When British custom agents, or even the Royal Navy would crack down; the reaction from even the rank and file citizens could often turn ugly. There is recorded history of attacks even against naval ships by the local shoreman; and customs agents that would be tarred and feathered; or savagely beaten – for at least when it came to rum smuggling; everyone’s hands were in some way indirectly affected by the economy it generated.
That is why bribes were often the best way to allay the violence. Instead of being run out on a rail; it would often be in everyone’s best interest to pay off the customs agent; for his safety as well as everyone else’s! Off-loading cargo far off fom prying eyes and forging a ship’s manifest was the best way to reduce confrontation. Basically, violence was bad for business and any means possible to avoid it benefited everyone.
Traceability was also to be avoided. Large sums of unmarked cash guaranteed that no revenue could be traced back to the originator. That was the great Achille’s heal for Al Capone – he kept good records and when the CPA responsible was tracked down; he was doomed. Therefore, record keeping, which normally would be a plus for a later-in-time historian, would be absolutely missing.
Bribes, Codes of Silence and un-traceable money and products; and the danger of exposing involved ‘respectable citizens’; makes smuggling a very difficult crime to detect or to stop.