I went from Brit nerd to drug kingpin dubbed Bank of England… I dodged mafia hit & faced 200 years in US's toughest jail | The Sun

SHAUN Attwood is not the sort of person you’d expect to become one of America’s biggest drug dealers.

Growing up in Widnes, Cheshire, he started dabbling in shares at the age of 14 and he was taught economics at university by Margaret Thatcher’s former advisor Sir Patrick Minford.

By his early twenties, Shaun had earned a million by working as a stockbroker in the United States, and seemed to be set for life.

But a keen business mind and lethal drug habit led him into the deepest, darkest and most dangerous parts of US society.

Shaun, 54, only just dodged a mafia hit, smuggled ecstasy, had his door battered down by an armed SWAT team, faced a 200 year jail sentence and survived one of the most notorious prisons in the United States.

It was the cold hard reality of prison that made him realise drugs wrecked lives.



Our quaint seaside town has been ruined by ‘eye-burning’ mystery smell for YEARS


Meet the glam Queen of XL Bullys cashing in by flooding UK with 8st beasts

Shaun tells The Sun: “Only when I sobered up in the jail, I looked back and thought ‘what on earth have you done, how on earth are you still alive?’”

Since being released from prison in 2007 and deported back to the UK, he has dedicated much of his life to warning others about the dangers of illegal substances and shining a light on harsh prison conditions.

He has visited hundreds of schools, written 16 books and interviewed over a thousand guests on his podcast, including Robbie Williams and Kerry Katona.

When I ask Shaun what his future is, he goes to collect his one month old son Ziggy and places him proudly on his knee.

Most read in The Sun


Neo-nazi gunman kills 3 including girl, 14, & mum after opening fire at hospital


Ex-World boxing champ cleared of sex assault after ‘calling waitress “pet”‘


Top cop faces probe after wearing Falklands medal despite being 15 during war


TV legend joins Corrie and you might recognise him from classic sitcom

At one point Shaun dodged a mafia hit, smuggled ecstasy and had his door battered down by an armed SWAT teamCredit: Supplied
Shaun faced a 200 year jail sentence and survived one of the most notorious prisons in the United StatesCredit: Supplied

But how he came to be a contented family man after living as a drug crazed smuggler is truly remarkable.

Going back to the start, Shaun recalls: “I started following the stock market when I was 14. 

“Aged 16 I borrowed £50 off my nan, bought BT shares, doubled it and I was hooked.”

It was a terrifying incident when he was aged around 17 or 18 that he believes made him susceptible to drug taking.

He explains: “I almost got beaten to death by some drunks, they smashed me in the face, they left me for dead basically.

“I became too self conscious to dance or speak to women and when the rave scene started in Britain and I started taking ecstasy, my anxiety melted away.

“People saw me as this wild and crazy party person.”

'Bank of England'

He did a degree in economics at Liverpool University and in March 1991, headed to the United States to become a stockbroker, working in Arizona.

Shaun continues: “I would pull up at these warehouse raves on the south side of Phoenix in my twin turbo Mazda RX7 and they knew I had money.

“The local ravers started calling me 'The Bank of England' and they started to ask me to invest in their projects which involved throwing raves.”

Soon he discovered that the local ecstasy suppliers couldn’t keep up with his demands, so he headed to West Hollywood in California to pick up one thousand tablets.

The local ravers started calling me 'The Bank of England' and they started to ask me to invest in their projects which involved throwing raves

Having made a quick profit by selling them in one weekend, Shaun says: “I made the fateful decision to try to make a go of making money from the party scene.

"That’s what caused me to lose everything and six years of my life.”

Shaun, with the help of his childhood friend Peter ‘Wildman’ Mahoney, set up a network of dealers and smugglers.

He says: “I applied my business studies knowledge to structure it like a corporation.”

The ecstasy bought in Holland made its way to Arizona via Mexico.

Mafia hit

As his operation grew, a rival operation led by notorious mobster Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano allegedly wanted rid of the competition.

Sammy, who confessed to 19 murders as part of a plea deal, is said to have ordered a hit on Shaun.

The Cheshire man says the killer “was dispatched one night to kidnap me from a nightclub, but we just left, we just dodged them in time, the guys I was with felt the atmosphere change”.

Shaun, who had a concealed gun permit, had his own security team who appeared intimidating enough for him to avoid any violence.

He explains: “I was classified as a non-violent drug offender.”

When the ecstasy was no longer able to satisfy his cravings Shaun turned to even more dangerous substances.

He admits: “By the end of it, I was taking crystal meth, I was taking ketamine, I was taking GHB, I was taking ecstasy, assorted Mexican pharmaceuticals.

“Crystal meth you don’t eat, you don’t sleep. I had stomach ulcers, paranoia.”

Surrounded by even more addicted friends he made the mistake of thinking he was something out of Goodfellas.

He says: “The drugs are telling you you are above the law, you are living like a character out of a movie and all this nonsense. 

“All your friends around you are also taking drugs and you are all reinforcing this insane behaviour and there is no one to put the brakes on.”

Game over

By May 2002 he had stepped back from the dealing on the advice of his girlfriend, but was still taking drugs.

It took the long arm of the law to stop him.

Shaun recalls: “I was on the computer getting back into stock trading and there was a ‘bam, bam, bam’ on the door; jump up, look through the peephole, it is blacked out.

“I think, ‘is it the cops or people coming to rob me?’

“I look out the window and the whole place is surrounded, and so I’m like, we better let them in.

“I am halfway to the door and ‘boom’ and it flies off the hinges and it’s ‘Get on the floor, hands on your heads, don’t f***ing move!’ One false move your life is over.”

By the end of it, I was taking crystal meth, I was taking ketamine, I was taking GHB, I was taking ecstasy, assorted Mexican pharmaceuticals

Facing accusations of smuggling around £10million of ecstasy over a five year period, Shaun was locked up in Maricopa County Jail in Arizona.

The jail was overseen by Joe Arpaio, who styled himself as ‘America’s toughest sheriff’ and was found by a federal court to have mistreated prisoners.

Shaun says: “When I sobered up in jail – where 90 per cent of the guys were injecting heroin, two thirds had hepatitis C, tooth rot, jaundice, they were going to die – I saw the end of drug use and I was horrified I had put people on that road. 

“I couldn’t change my path so I just resolved to go out and tell my story.”

He wrote a secret blog detailing the terrible conditions in the jail, where it’s estimated 57 inmates died during the five years he was there.

“I am getting used to heads being bashed against toilets and bodies getting thrown around, it is a daily thing,” he says.

Reformed character

Shaun also took up yoga, meditation and read over 1,000 books which were sent to him by friends and family.

He would still be inside now if it wasn’t for his loving parents.

They helped pay for the lawyer who got Shaun’s prison sentence reduced to six years. 

Shaun explains: “All my assets were seized so I needed $100,000 for the lawyer, so my parents re-mortgaged the house. I would still be in prison if they hadn’t. 

“In America you get what justice you can afford.”

All my assets were seized so I needed $100,000 for the lawyer, so my parents re-mortgaged the house

Shortly after returning to Britain in 2007, Shaun set up a YouTube channel where he talked about prison conditions.

Two years later he started going round to schools telling pupils about his experiences.

He says: “I basically went in, scared the living daylights out of the kids talking about consequences of what can happen if you get involved in drugs, my mum had a nervous breakdown, my sister had to have counselling.”

His first book Hard Time was published in 2011 and his latest book is titled Sitdowns with Gangsters.

After interviewing numerous police officers, criminals and psychologists he believes the war on drugs is failing and that we need to stop locking people up for possessing cannabis.

He concludes: “The drug problem gets worse each year. My philosophy is more education, less incarceration.



I'm a cleaner, 5 things I'd never put in my house – including a kitchen handle

Back to normality

Paris Fury shares sleepy selfie & baby update after day of 'normal life'

“All this knife crime in London – what the cops are telling us is it’s young people fighting over the black market profits of drugs.”

Watch Shaun Attwood on YouTube or find out about his books here.

Source: Read Full Article