Authors: Wensley Clarkson
First published in Great Britain in 2014 by
Quercus Editions Ltd
55 Baker Street
Seventh Floor, South Block
Copyright Â© 2014 Wensley Clarkson
The moral right of Wensley Clarkson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Every effort has been made to contact copyright holders of material reproduced in this book. If any have been inadvertently overlooked, the publishers will be pleased to make restitution at the earliest opportunity.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
TPB ISBN 978 1 84866 327 5
EBOOK ISBN 978 1 84866 328 2
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is one of Britain's most knowledgeable writers when it comes to the criminal underworld. His booksÂ â published in more than thirty countriesÂ â have sold in excess of one and a half million copies. He has also written movie screenplays and made numerous TV documentaries in the UK, US and Spain.
Two thousand escudos of silver
They will give for his head alone
Many would win the prize
But nobody can succeed
Only a comrade could.
â Old South American proverb
To Tommy, who spent a lifetime in âthe business'
Cocaine: A colorless or white crystalline alkaloid, C
, extracted from coca leaves, sometimes used in medicine as a local anesthetic especially for the eyes, nose, or throat and widely used as an illicit drug for its euphoric and stimulating effects
â Dictionary definition
He pulled the matt black Glock automatic out of the glove compartment of the rental car, pointed it straight at my head and then a broad smile came over his horribly scarred face. âThis is my favourite toy. With this baby, no one fucks with me. I am the king.' Jimmy's grin exposed two gold front teeth and his piercing blue eyes glistened in the Marbella sunshine. The most frightening thing about having a gun shoved in
your face, even jokingly, is looking at the shooter's finger stroking the trigger.
But I could hardly complain; Liverpool gangster Jimmy had taken time out to talk to me about the activities of his cocaine gang and the bloody clashes with his rivals on Spain's notorious Costa del Crime. The British Boys had been given a right hammering by the Eastern Europeans in recent weeks.
As I have discovered on numerous occasions while travelling the world to research this book, coke gangs murder their rivals because it's part of their business. A well-publicised killing sends out a message to rivals not to overstep the mark. In a sense, it's highly effective PR. And right in the middle of all this murder and mayhem are deadly, cold-blooded villains like Jimmy.
Jimmy's chilling attitude and the way he's thrived in the all-year-round heat of southern Spain is indicative of the way cocaine gangsters have flourished over the past thirty-five years.
Despite the introduction of an extradition treaty with the UK more than twenty years ago, British criminals still make southern Spain their base because it is easier to operate with impunity here than anywhere else in Europe. It also happens to be the gateway from Africa and South America, sources for 90 per cent of all the most in-demand drugs that flood into Europe every day.
Jimmy operates on the twenty-five-mile strip of coastline between the seaside communities of Fuengirola and Marbella. Cocaine provides the majority of his income but then that's
hardly surprising since it is a multi-billion-dollar industry in Spain. However, these days there are vicious turf wars continually flaring up between coke criminals from the UK, South America, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. It all began back in the âGood Old Days' of the 1970s and early 1980s when British villains fled to Spain to avoid extradition and discovered an underworld fuelled by the white powder.
Muscular and physically extremely fit, Jimmy has the name of his Scottish former girlfriend tattooed on his left arm. His dark mop of hair contrasts alarmingly with the heavy lines on his 49-year-old face. And despite waving that gun at me earlier, he seemed to have an easygoing manner. Jimmy was equally comfortable speaking English and Spanish, yet he also talked about murdering people as if it was as normal as eating scrambled eggs for breakfast. If he hadn't become a criminal, he told me, he'd probably have been an accountant. His own brother was one. Another brother back in Toxteth was a hitman, who occasionally flew over to Spain to carry out jobs for Jimmy's gang.
Jimmy lived in a penthouse apartment overlooking the picturesque, narrow cobbled streets of Marbella's whitewashed old town. Even during Spain's current property price meltdown, his flat had to be worth half a million pounds. Jimmy had at least one hundred grand's worth of gold jewellery on his fingers, wrist and around his neck. He drove a succession of rented BMWs because, he explained, he liked to change cars every couple of weeks for âsecurity reasons'.
Jimmy claimed he'd been stabbed five times, which was why he often carried a gun. He had one six-inch scar running from just below his eye to his chin. It contorted whenever he tried to make a point while talking.
Jimmy had spent, he said, ten years of his life in prison and he insisted he'd rather commit suicide than ever go back to jail. He made a point of drawing the tip of his forefinger across his neck to emphasise his feelings. Then he lifted up his Ralph Lauren shirt to show me four scars across his stomach. One time, he explained to me in a very cool fashion, he lost four pints of blood and almost had his liver punctured. âThey wanted me dead,' he said. âWho?' I asked calmly. âThe fuckin' Russians,' he spat. âThey're evil. They never smile and everything is about business, business, business.' Coming from a man so clearly dancing with the devil himself, it sounded a little hollow.
Jimmy remained totally focused throughout our meeting. As we walked along the promenade near his home, his eyes darted about examining every single face going past us. Even as he chatted to me, he seemed to be constantly on the lookout, just in case âanyone tries to have a pop at me'.
Back up at his penthouse a few minutes later, Jimmy's new Romanian girlfriend Sasha turned up. She seemed flustered and worried about Jimmy and kept fussing around him. I could see he was getting irritable with her. Then suddenly he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her off to an adjoining room. Less than two minutes later, I heard her scream and then start sobbing. Jimmy reappeared rubbing his hands
together almost gleefully. âThat bitch was out all last night. If I find out who she is fuckin' I'll slit his throat.' Moments later, he pulled out a clear plastic bag the size of a crisp packet filled with cocaine, which must have been worth Â£10,000 on the open market.
âThis stuff is the cause of everything, mate. Trouble is, I'm fuckin' hooked on it,' said Jimmy, as he roughly sprinkled out a fat, cigar-sized line of cocaine on the glass coffee table in front of him. Then he produced a pink see-through straw and noisily snorted the line up his nose in a split second.
âNow,' he said, sniffing noisily before taking a big intake of breath. âWhere were we?'
It was time to go before Jimmy started getting the âparanoid wobblies' that would inevitably be sparked by such a massive snort of cocaine.
is littered with criminals like Jimmy, who've allowed the cocaine trade to rule their lives. As he said to me just before I left his penthouse: â
has given me all this.' Then he stopped for a moment to reflect. âProblem is, it's also fuckin' killin' me and I don't have a fuckin' clue how to live without it.'
Cocaine is renowned as the world's most profitable recreational drug. Its power and influence has spread across the globe, providing an income for everyone from South American drug barons to lowly, cash-desperate âmules' risking life and limb to smuggle it across borders. Cocaine underpins a vast criminal underworld with a dark and deadly side, fuelling a network of dealers, gangsters, drug barons, crooked cops and even terrorists using sex, intimidation, bribery and murder in their quest for huge profits.