Howard Marks, a Welsh drug smuggler-turned-celebrity author, has said in an interview that he has been diagnosed with inoperable bowel cancer.
The 69-year-old, who spent seven years in a high-security U.S. prison, was found to have the disease in autumn last year.
“I’ve come to terms with it in my own way – which for me was about learning how to cry, ” Marks said in an interview with The Observer. “It’s impossible to regret any part of my life when I feel happy and I am happy now, so I don’t have any regrets and have not had any for a very long time.”
Marks, dubbed “the most sophisticated drugs baron of all time”, grew up in Wales and later worked for the British Secret Service after graduating from Oxford where he earned a degree in nuclear physics and post graduate qualifications in philosophy, The Mirror said.
He was busted in 1988 by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and sentenced to 25 years at America’s toughest federal jail, Terre Haute, in Indiana, The Mirror said. Marks was released on parole in 1995 for good behavior.
The former drug smuggler is considered by fans of his bestselling biography “Mr. Nice” as an entertaining veteran of the drug-fuelled hippy scene of the 1970s. His confessional memoir, published in 1996, made Marks a household name and went on to sell more than a million copies, the Observer said.
He then embarked on a performing career, touring Britain to talk to audiences about a life that had taken him all over the world and involved him with the mafia, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the IRA and security services on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2006 he became the subject of a film, also called “Mr. Nice”, in which he was played by his fellow Welshman, Rhys Ifans, the report said.
As a drug smuggler in the 1980s, Marks had 43 aliases, 89 phone lines and 25 companies trading worldwide as fronts for money laundering. Sentenced to 25 years for drug smuggling, he was released in 1995 for good behavior, according to the Observer.
Marks has been told nothing can be done to stop the cancer, which has spread to his liver and lungs, but medical sources said Marks has completed eight cycles of chemotherapy and responded well, according to the report.
Marks told The Observer that he is unrepentant about his life in drugs, but said he is sorry for the grief it brought his wife and children. “Smuggling cannabis was a wonderful way of living – perpetual culture shock, absurd amounts of money, and the comforting knowledge of getting so many people stoned, ” he said.
“Prison took the wind out of the sails for a while, and was a terrible blow to my young family. However, I felt immensely lucky and privileged to have written a bestseller and then embarked on a career of performing in public, which allowed me to hang out with musicians, DJs and other lovers of dope. I have had an incredible life”, he added, The Observer said.
Ifans and Welsh band Super Furry Animals will take part in a concert in London next month to raise funds for former dope smuggler’s treatment, the Observer said.
The February 27 event will raise money to help Marks and his dependants as well as to set up a charitable foundation and finish a documentary about his life, reports said.