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Howard Marks
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    (August 13, 1945-April 10, 2016)
    Born in Kenfig Hill, Wales, United Kingdom
    Smuggled marijuana and hashish
    At his peak, controlled 10% of the world trade in cannabis
    Nicknamed ‘the Marco Polo of drugs’ for his international contacts
    Arrested in Majorca, Spain, and extradited to the US (1988)
    Pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and sentenced to two sentences of 10 and 15 years in prison to be served consecutively (1990)
    Incarcerated at the Federal Correction Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana
    Released on parole (1995)
    Wrote the autobiography ‘Mr. Nice’ (1996)
    Portrayed by Rhys Ifans in the film adaptation of ‘Mr. Nice’ (2010)
    At Oxford, he spent more time doing drugs than attending classes and had to combine last minute cramming with cheating to pass his exams.
    He used 43 aliases during his smuggling career.
    His most famous alias, ‘Mr. Nice,’ was the result of his buying a passport from convicted murderer Donald Nice.
    In his drug deals, he worked with the Mafia, the Yakuza, Pablo Escobar, the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Irish Republican Army.
    After being arrested in Amsterdam for smuggling drugs (1973), he skipped bail and fled to Italy, where he lived in a Winnebago for three months before sneaking back into England.
    He ran for four Parliamentary seats simultaneously on the issue of drug legalization, winning about 1% of the vote (1997).
    He admitted that after his return to Britain, he briefly dealt Ecstasy before getting out because it was too difficult to tell if the drugs had been tampered with.
    He refused to deal in hard drugs because a college friend, Joshua Macmillan (grandson of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan), had died from a heroin overdose.
    He was asked to join MI6 (the British secret intelligence service) because of his contacts with the IRA (1972).
    Thanks to his MI6 recruitment and his personal charm, he was able to convince a British jury that his drug dealing was a cover for his hunt for members of the IRA; he was found not guilty on smuggling charges, but spent five days in prison for using a false passport (1980).
    While imprisoned at Terre Haute, he was frequently put in solitary confinement as a potential escape risk, even though he never tried to escape.
    At his parole hearing, prison officials testified that he was a model prisoner who spent much of his time helping other inmates study for their GED exams.
    He was a popular speaker on the British lecture circuit, regaling audiences with stories about his smuggling days and time in prison and arguing for legalizing drugs.

Credit: C. Fishel

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