|Spain had controlled Lima since the 16th century, when it defeated the Incas. In the centuries that followed, the Catholic Church amassed a massive treasure in Lima. In 1820 the city was on the edge of revolt. As a preventative measure, the Viceroy of Lima decided to transport the city’s fabulous wealth to Mexico for safekeeping.|
An original inventory showed 113 gold religious statues, one a life-size Virgin Mary, 200 chests of jewels, 273 swords with jewelled hilts, 1,000 diamonds, solid gold crowns, 150 chalices and hundreds of gold and silver bars.
|Captain William Thompson, commander of the Mary Dear, was put in charge of transporting the riches to Mexico.|
Thompson and and his crew turned pirate, cut the throats of the guards and accompanying priests, and threw their bodies overboard.
|Thompson headed for Cocos Island, off the coast of present day Costa Rica, where he and his men allegedly buried the treasure. The Mary Dear was captured, and the crew went on trial for piracy.|
All but Thompson and his first mate were hanged. To save their lives, the two agreed to lead the Spanish to the stolen treasure. They took them as far as the Cocos Islands and then managed to escape into the jungle.
|Thompson, the first mate, and the treasure were never seen again.