Presented by Monmouth Timeline to support education and research into our rich and colorful regional history.

Search The Timeline

The Coast Guard Finally Catches the King of the Rum-Runners

On November 25, 1923, William McCoy, the self-designated “King of the Rum-runners,” made his last voyage as a smuggler. Born in Florida, McCoy had been one of the most brazen and successful bootleggers during the Prohibition era. McCoy had been busted with 1,500 cases of liquor off of Atlantic City in 1921, but after a while, he would return to the Jersey Shore to once again cash in on the unquenchable demand for illicit alcohol. On the morning of the 25th, McCoy was off the coast of Sea Bright when he squared off against the Coast Guard cutter Seneca. After a chase of a few miles, the Seneca lobbed four shells into the water in front of McCoy’s boat. The smuggling vessel stopped, and the coast guard overtook it. When the Coasties went aboard and searched the ship, they found McCoy down below, surrounded by 400 cases of whisky. According to the Coast Guard, it was all that was left of a massive 4,200 case shipment McCoy had brought up from the Bahamas. McCoy had $60,000 on him when he was searched. After several years of legal wrangling, McCoy served a “short stint” in jail. When he got out, in part due to increased competition, he withdrew from the rum-running game for good.

Deitche, Scott M. (2018). Garden State Gangland: The Rise of the Mob in New Jersey. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Md., P. 12-13.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top