During the mid 1980's Howard Marks had forty three aliases, eighty nine phone lines and owned twenty five companies throughout the world. Whether bars, recording studios or offshore banks, all were money laundering vehicles serving the core activity: dope dealing.
Marks began to deal small amounts of hashish while doing a postgraduate philosophy course at Oxford and soon he was moving much larger quantities into Europe and into America the equipment of touring British rock bands. The academic life began to lose its allure. At the height of his career he was smuggling consignments of up to fifty tons from Pakistan and Thailand to America and Canada and had contact with organisations as diverse as MI6, the CIA, the IRA and the Mafia.
Numerous newspaper profiles, books and television documentaries have been devoted to Howard Mark's life. Touched with humour charm and candour, Mr Nice is his own extraordinary story.
"An easygoing international drug smuggler tells his life story. Marks spent most of his life looking for a good scam and a good time. As a child, he got out of a school by faking illness; as a student at Oxford, he used his considerable intelligence to cheat on tests and soon became a fixture of the nascent mid-'60s drug scene. Graduation found him "temporarily straight," but that state soon ended when a dealer friend was jailed and Marks stepped into the breach to sell hashish in London. He moved on to ferrying drugs and currency across European borders for others, and soon enough was arranging his own import/export deals with characters such as "Lebanese Sam," his man in Beirut, and maverick Irishman Jim McCann, who fixed things at the Shannon airport. Marks traveled the world (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Thailand for business; Spain and Italy for pleasure) with tons of marijuana and hashish and millions of dollars following in his wake-stuffed behind auto paneling, hidden in yachts, sealed in smell-proof containers for air travel. Meanwhile, Marks collected multiple identities, passports, and bank accounts, as well as a handful of legitimate business operations, although, he reports, "I enjoyed being a smuggler most of all." In his personal life, Marks kept things simple: after a failed starter marriage, he soon settled down with his second wife and had three children. Following the progression of Marks's business rapidly becomes overwhelming, but his story, published in England in 1996, is book-ended by a single point: prison. Hunted by the DEA, Marks was finally busted in Spain in the late '80s and served a number of years in the pen before being shipped back to England. A tale that beggars belief, told in a most amiable, if long-winded, way." - (Kirkus Reviews)