Before the era of drug smuggling and human trafficking, smuggling had acquired a kind of nostalgic romanticism, in the vein of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped: The thievery was boasted about and romanticized until it seemed a kind of heroism.It did not have any taint of criminality and the whole of the south coast had pockets vying with one another over whose smugglers were the darkest or most daring.As a result, illegal drug trafficking, and the smuggling of weapons (illegal arms trade), as well as the historical staples of smuggling, alcohol and tobacco, are widespread.As the smuggler faces significant risk of civil and criminal penalties if caught with contraband, smugglers are able to impose a significant price premium on smuggled goods.Profits also derive from avoiding taxes or levies on imported goods.For example, a smuggler might purchase a large quantity of cigarettes in a place with low taxes and smuggle them into a place with higher taxes, where they can be sold at a far higher margin than would otherwise be possible.Most studies of historical smuggling have been based on official sources — such as court records, or the letters of Revenue Officers.According to Dr Evan Jones (University of Bristol), the trouble with these is that 'they only detail the activities of those dumb enough to get caught'.
"I do not find they have any foreign commerce, except it be what we call smuggling and roguing; which I may say, is the reigning commerce of all this part of the English coast, from the mouth of the Thames to the Land's End in Cornwall." The high rates of duty levied on tea and also wine and spirits, and other luxury goods coming in from mainland Europe at this time made the clandestine import of such goods and the evasion of the duty a highly profitable venture for impoverished fishermen and seafarers.
In England smuggling first became a recognised problem in the 13th century, following the creation of a national customs collection system by Edward I in 1275.
Merchants also, however, sometimes smuggled other goods to circumvent prohibitions or embargoes on particular trades.
The Smugglers Inn was one of the commonest names for a bar on the coast".
In Henley Road, smuggling in colonial times was a reaction to the heavy taxes and regulations imposed by mercantilist trade policies.For example, when the Southern United States allowed slavery, many slaves moved north via the Underground Railroad.Similarly, during the Holocaust, Jewish people were smuggled out of Germany by people such as Algoth Niska.The profits involved in smuggling goods appear to be extensive.