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Lost Gold of Jean Lafitte on Expedition Unknown

Jean Lafitte potrait
A painting thought to be of Jean Lafitte. The privateer lived an exciting life of adventure and high seas drama, but did he leave behind hordes of gold?

The Lost Gold of Jean Lafitte is the subject of the latest episode of Expedition Unknown, as Josh Gates and the team try to get to the bottom of rumors involving treasure hordes, pirates, spies, wars and gold!

Jean Lafitte was born in 1780 and had a varied life as smuggler, pirate, spy and privateer. He and his brother, Pierre Lafitte, operated a smuggling business out of New Orleans. This was highly profitable but after the U.S. government passed the Embargo Act in 1807, they were forced to move to Barataria Bay in Louisiana.

Barataria Bay map
Barataria Bay proved to be an ideal place for smuggling operations
Three years later they had established a lucrative business and had also started to engage in piracy. This eventually brought the attention of the United States Navy and in 1814 nearly all of Lafitte’s fleet was captured.
However, geopolitics saved the brothers from hanging and in return for helping the U.S. defend New Orleans against the British during the War of 1812, they were pardoned.
Lafitte, W.C.C.Claiborne and General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812
Lafitte, W.C.C.Claiborne and General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812
Never ones to miss out on an opportunity, the brothers spied for the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence and set up yet another pirate base in the shape of Capeche on Galveston Island, Texas.
Capeche on Galveston Island
Capeche was established on Galveston Island, Texas, where street names still refer to this pirate colony
From there they attacked merchant ships in the area and caused real headaches for the authorities. Though, in 1821, they were eventually forced to leave by the USS Enterprise after they attacked an American ship.
Lafitte was allowed to leave the island unmolested and is said to have taken huge amounts of treasure with him. He and his men continued to harass Spanish shipping in the area, operating around Cuba and and one point even assisting some American ships.
Jean Lafitte was buried at sea in the Gulf of Honduras
Jean Lafitte was buried at sea in the Gulf of Honduras but where is his gold?
Jean Lafitte is thought to have died in 1823, whilst attacking a Spanish ship. He was given a burial at sea in the Gulf Of Honduras and speculation about the whereabouts of his treasure hoard has been rife ever since.

Expedition Unknown: Lost Gold of Jean Lafitte airs at 10/9c on Discovery. 

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray


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