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Watch > Episode > Howard Marks - Meeting Mr Nice

Howard Marks - Meeting Mr Nice


Welsh author and former international cannabis smuggler Howard Marks drops by London Real studios to talk about his infamous career where he shipped consignments as large at 30 tons, avoided the grasp of law enforcement for two decades and was connected with groups such as the CIA, the IRA, the Mafia, and the Yakuza. Other topics of conversation include how he spent seven years in the US Federal Penitentiary, why he continues to write fiction and perform his one man shows across Britain.

Better known by his alias “Mr. Nice,” Howard Marks is a figure who transcends the boundaries of legality and societal norms, becoming one of the most infamous cannabis smugglers of the 20th century. Marks’ life story is a riveting saga of intrigue, audacity, and the blurs lines between the counterculture and the establishment.

Born on August 13, 1945, in Kenfig Hill, Wales, Howard Marks displayed early academic prowess. He studied at Balliol College, Oxford, where he demonstrated his intellect and charisma. Marks’ academic achievements paved the way for a prestigious career, but destiny had other plans for the Welsh scholar.

Marks’ life took a dramatic turn in the 1970s when he became involved in the cannabis trade. Adopting the alias “Mr. Nice,” Marks started importing vast quantities of high-quality marijuana into the United Kingdom from various parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Thailand. His ability to outsmart law enforcement and border control earned him a reputation as one of the most successful drug smugglers of his time.

Cleverly exploiting the loopholes in international law and using his charm to build connections, Mr. Nice created a vast smuggling network that supplied cannabis to a burgeoning market. Despite the illicit nature of his activities, Marks managed to maintain a Robin Hood-like image, with many perceiving him as a charismatic anti-establishment figure challenging the status quo.

Howard Marks’ luck eventually ran out, leading to his arrest in 1988 in Spain. Facing extradition to the United States, Marks spent years embroiled in legal battles. His captivating courtroom performances, often filled with wit and charisma, endeared him to the public and earned him sympathy even from those who disapproved of his criminal activities.

Marks was eventually sentenced to 25 years in prison, a term that was later reduced to seven years on appeal. While incarcerated, he continued to write and maintain a public profile. His autobiography, “Mr. Nice,” published in 1996, provides a detailed account of his life as a drug smuggler, captivating readers with its candid storytelling and unapologetic narrative.

Upon his release from prison in 1995, Howard Marks has enjoyed his life as a public figure. He has become a sought-after speaker, sharing his experiences at universities and literary events. Marks’ ability to blend humour with reflection allows him to connect with audiences, making him a compelling and engaging speaker.

In addition to his public speaking engagements, Marks continues to write and has published several more books, including “Señor Nice” and “The Howard Marks Book of Dope Stories.”

Howard Marks’ legacy is one of resilience, audacity, and an unapologetic embrace of a countercultural lifestyle. His ability to navigate the fine line between criminality and charisma makes him a symbol of rebellion for some and a notorious figure for others.


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