http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/4342162.html Cigarette Racing Team this week announced that it will be marketing high-end speedboats to military and law enforcement customers. A release from the company says that the their signature boat is "long-known for its commanding visual appeal and underlying sexuality" but neglects to mention its past as the preferred vehicle for drug smugglers who want to outrun law enforcement helicopters and ships. A cigarette boat is a slender, fiberglass vessel that is built for small crews and high speeds. The "go-fast" designwhich raised the bar for the maximum performance of speedboatswas the brainchild of professional racer Donald Aronow in the 1960s. By the early 1980s he was rich and his boats were legendary, both for breaking speed records and for breaking laws in the Florida Keys as Colombian cocaine smugglers used the speedboats to flee from Coast Guard and other law enforcement officials. Aronow got a multimillion-dollar contract to build an equally quick boat called the Blue Thunder for U.S. Customs agents, but the program ran into problems in 1983 when he sold his business to a man reputed to have drug ties. Aronow bought the company back in 1984, and revived the Blue Thunder order. He was eventually gunned down in the streets of Miami in 1987, allegedly by criminals hired by the short-time, drug-affiliated owner. Aronow is gone, but his amazing boats remain. He is viewed as a legendary craftsman who revolutionized powerboat racing. But the illicit go-fast boats he invented remain an active method for smugglers to sneak contraband into the United States. The problem got so bad that the Coast Guard started arming marksmen in their helicopters with .50-caliber rifles that could blast the speedboats' engines. Unmanned aircraft and helicopters are also being developed and deployed to spot the lean-hulled boats as they zip into south Florida. Now, harkening back to the days of Blue Thunder, the Cigarette Racing Team is adapting its 39-foot Top Fish for law enforcement and military duties. The designers installed shock-absorbing seats that were designed for Navy SEAL delivery boats that prevent back injuries while on long trips or over rough water. An all-digital cockpit wraps around the instruments for ideal visibility during missions. According to company officials, the adapted boat was not made for a single program. "Cigarette is pleased to be in strong contention for some upcoming contracts," says Skip Braver, Cigarette Racing Team's president. "This boat demonstrates Cigarette's diversity and ability to respond to the market." But don't be surprised if the Military 39 cigarette boat appears in fleets of governments other than the United States. A recent Miami Herald article stated that the company is finding more success in international marketing, with sales to other nations accounting for 30 percent of all its sales last year.