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Drug smuggling media star Mr Nice dies at 70

By Hannah Stubbs

Published 12/04/2016

‘Folk hero’: Howard Marks
‘Folk hero’: Howard Marks

Howard Marks, the former drugs smuggler known as Mr Nice, has died.

The 70-year-old announced he had inoperable bowel cancer last year.

Friend and former colleague at Loaded magazine James Brown told The Guardian that Marks was a "true modern-day folk hero", who had done "so many funny, shocking, illegal things".

Marks had a monthly column at the magazine for five years and released his autobiography, Mr Nice, which detailed his many years smuggling cannabis, in 1996.

In a 1981 drug smuggling trial Marks claimed he had been recruited by MI6 to target a leading member of the Provisional IRA.

The Belfast republican was smuggling arms for the IRA, and he and Marks used this activity to import drugs into Britain via Ireland.

Speaking five years ago about the story, Marks - who visited Belfast to give talks about his remarkable life in recent years - said: "It's based on fact because I did have assistance from a guy who claimed he was an IRA member.

"He was extraordinary, not least because I think he was the only person in history who the IRA denied was a member."

After years living under as many as 43 aliases, he was eventually caught by the US Drug Enforcement Agency in 1988.

He was sentenced to 25 years at one of America's toughest prisons - Terre Haute, Indiana - and was released on parole in 1995 after serving seven years.

A 2010 film about his life starred fellow Welshman Rhys Ifans.

Belfast Telegraph

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