Howard Marks, one of the most famous cannabis smugglers ever, has died from cancer at age 70.
Marks is perhaps most well known for turning a life of marijuana smuggling throughout Europe and the United States into a celebrity-like life as a writer and performer.
After growing up in a mining village in south Wales, Marks eventually attended Oxford University. It was while studying physics that his life with cannabis really started taking off.
By the time he graduated, he’d already started selling so much marijuana that he set up a boutique clothing store called Annabelinda as a front for laundering his hordes of drug money. Instead of sticking around to pursue a career in the academic world, Howard Marks decided to dive headlong into his growing smuggling business.
From there, he quickly rose to the top. He became one of the biggest marijuana smugglers in all of Europe. He also expanded his empire to include the U.S.
One of his most well known stunts was using the sound systems of rock bands to sneak loads of cannabis into the U.S.
But Marks eventually started running into trouble.
He was arrested in both 1973 and 1980. Both times the marijuana kingpin managed to escape with minimal punishments. And in both cases, he used a combination of charm, charisma, and some sort of half-baked claim to be working for England’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, to convince judges and juries to let him off easy.
Throughout those years, he continued expanding his marijuana kingdom, successfully using more than 40 different aliases along the way.
Simply put, Howard Marks was the ultimate drug smuggler.
Finally, in 1988, he was arrested by American officials. He pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and was sentenced to 25 years at a maximum security prison in Terra Haute, Indiana.
He was released on parole in 1995, after serving seven full years.
After that, Howard Marks became a famous writer and performer, using his drug smuggling experiences as the basis for his work. He also became an outspoken political activist advocating for marijuana legalization.
“I want it to be legalized for consuming recreationally—and I’m pleased to see they have now done this in four U.S. states.”
“After my experiences at the hands of the U.S. legal system, America is the last place in the world that I thought would be leading the charge.”
In January 2015, Marks told the media that he’d been diagnosed with cancer. News of his death broke on April 10.
(Photo Credit: The Sun)