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The word "pirate" conjures up images of eye patches, parrots and peg legs. They sound tough, but the buccaneers of old wouldn't stand a chance against modern pirates, which are in fact still roaming the sea in search of the same types of treasure as Blackbeard.

Modern pirates attack and overtake transport vessels, stealing goods and often taking hostages. The areas most plagued by seafaring criminals include the waters between the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, off the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Somalia, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center.

As the world's largest trading nation, the United States takes the money lost by its trading partners to pirates very seriously. Harsh punishments await pirates: Both conspiring to commit hostage-taking and seizing a ship while possessing a gun can carry life prison sentences.

"Piracy on the high seas is a threat against the community of nations," US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a press statement regarding the 2009 hijacking of the American-operated Maersk Alabama container ship in the Indian Ocean. "Modern-day pirates who wreak havoc off faraway coasts will be met with modern-day justice in the United States."

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Follow Remy Melina on Twitter @RemyMelina