Captain Benito de Soto

    Active one hundred years after the Golden Age of Piracy, he was a Portuguese slave trader who later turned to piracy. In 1827, de Soto sailed to Africa from Brazil aboard the ship Defense de Pedro. Almost as soon as he left port he began plotting with some of the crew to takeover the ship and become a pirate. After picking up a consignment of slaves off the Africa coast, de Soto waited for the ship to reach the deep ocean and then led his co-conspirators in a bloody mutiny. The ship's captain and those loyal to him were all killed or thrown overboard and left to die. De Soto then took the ship to the West Indies were they sold their cargo of slaves. He then renamed his ship the Black Joke and began to terrorize the waters of the Caribbean. His actions on the high seas were always quite brutal, rarely offering his opponents quarter or the option to join his crew. In fact he became so notorious that ships sailing from South America at this time often refused to sail alone. They would try to form convoys around St. Helena in order to attempt safe passage.

    In 1830, while enroute to Europe, he overtook a small East Indian traders brig named the Morning Star. They plundered her of all its cargo and tortured most of the crew, raped the women aboard as well. When the pirates were ready to sail on, they locked everyone in the cargo hold then set this ship on fire and left it to burn. Fortunately the survivors aboard were able to free themselves from below and extinguish the fires. They were later picked up by a passing ship the next day. De Soto continued to pillage and plunder like this on his way back toward Spain. After arriving in Spain and disposing of much of their booty, the pirates set sail for Cadiz. Bad weather forced the ship upon the coastal rocks near Cadiz and the crew had to abandoned the ship. Intending to sell what they could salvage from their ship in Cadiz, the authorities began to suspect the nature of the men in their midst, and the pirates were forced to flee. Six were arrested, de Soto and one other pirate fled to Gibralter.

    Unfortunately for de Soto, he arrived in Gibraltar about the same time that the plundered Morning Star survivors arrived in port. He was quickly recognized by one of the passengers from that ship, and his fate was then sealed. He was quickly arrested, tried and sentenced to hang. It is said that de Soto proved himself to be just as defiant in facing death as he was in his acts of piracy. Rather than allow somebody to hang him, he calmly reached for the gallows rope at the last minute and adjusted the noose around his neck. He smiled to the gathered crowd and exclaimed "Adios Todos!" (roughly, so long everybody") as he jumped to his slow painful death. His head was then stuck on a pike and displayed as a warning to others.