The story of the St. Pete Beach smuggler

How a '60s teen helped St. Pete Beach go to pot.

Did you know that in the late 1960s and early ’70s, copious quantities of marijuana were being trafficked right off the shores of St. Pete Beach by a local teenager?

That would be Mr. Steve Lamb, one of Pinellas County’s most notorious drug smugglers. Lamb’s illicit business was prompted by his desire to fund his favored pastimes of surfing, sunbathing, and partying, though his small-scale sales grew to such a degree that he was buying boatloads of marijuana in the Caribbean and Latin America, then smuggling his bounties into Florida to be sold to customers all over the U.S.

Lamb took juvenile delinquency to a whole new level as a member of the Steinhatchee Seven, managing to elude authorities and make millions — all before he turned 20. The Seven were apprehended during a 1973 sting operation that was the biggest drug bust in the country at the time. Authorities seized nine tons of marijuana stashed in more than 450 burlap sacks and, according to Lamb, four tons were thrown overboard somewhere near Clearwater Beach.

Lamb served nine years in prison and remained on probation until 2009, when he self-published a short but gripping first-person memoir, The Smuggler’s Ghost, which landed him an episode of I Almost Got Away With It on Discovery Channel. You can still find Lamb kicking around
St. Pete Beach today, his book sold at tourist spots all over the beach. He and co-writer Larry Blue are currently working on a follow-up, release
date TBA.

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