Carlos Lehderer bought Normans Cay and had an airstrip and docks built to facilitate the transfer of drugs. Normans Cay is strategically located in the smuggling transit zone.
Midnight Express was the classic smuggling "go-fast boat". Lots of fuel and three/four outboards. The original owners and company were indicted and convicted of conspiracy by knowingly assisting drug smugglers. When Customs seized the company they found boats in production which were being fitted with concealed compartments that had hydraulic actuators installed to push the bales under the deck. No claim of ignorance there. In the plea arrangement, Midnight Express was forced to complete their production line and the boats went to US Customs. Several of these boats with 80's HINs are still in service with Customs in Florida and the Caribbean.
The new incarnation of Midnight Express, which has no relation to the original ownership, now makes the 39' Customs interceptors which are rigged with four Merc 225's.
Although smuggling is just as prevalant today, the Miami Vice days are long gone as far as chasing black Cigarettes doing 80mph.
The Feds wised up and changed some laws. Customs can now seize a vessel "outfitted for smuggling" which means they do not need to catch you with the dope onboard. Based on a few articuable facts, a vessel can be seized and forfeited without so much as a seed. The smugglers know this and now prefer disposable boats like a twin outboard center console.
The mother ship concept of open water transfers is still in use and it would be more common for loads to come in on a flats boat or even blow boat.
Besides advances in various radar and detection systems, its very hard to outrun a radio and a Customs UH-60 Black Hawk or USCG HITRON Stingray. Both agencies have also been employing disabling fire to the engines.
Bottom line, it may sound glamorous, and for many probably is, but eventually they all get caught. Speed Kills is an excellent book and details how Ben Kramer smuggled variuos loads including multi-tons in a scow barge.
By the way Kachina Ken, what's your real name and address???