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.
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.
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.
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 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.