Urban Smuggler (Andrew Pritchard)

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Urban Smuggler

About This Book

Condition & Size


Andrew Pritchard

Medium Paperback

It has all the elements of a Hollywood crime movie. Gangsters, guns, girls, tons of money and half a ton of cocaine. Enough to keep London’s clubland snorting for months. And hanging over the entire story, a poisonous cloud of corruption.

But this story isn’t fiction. It’s fact. The mean streets aren’t in Harlem. They’re in Hackney. And the lawmen aren’t FBI agents, they’re British Customs officers.

This is the story of how one of UK Custom’s greatest triumphs turned into one of its biggest disasters and exposed something rotten at the heart of one of the world’s most respected crime forces. This is the story of cocaine and coconuts.

The dramatic story as it unfolds reveals Customs officers spying on their colleagues. It exposes dangerous leaks and corrupt dissemination of secret documents form Custom’s HQ on a huge scale. The allegations of corrupt behaviour by Customs officers paint a picture of collusion, corruption and criminality on an extraordinary scale in Her Majesty’s frontline force against drugs.

The most shocking events reveal that the corruption might go to the very top echelons of management at Customs HQ. In a case which is replete with claim and counter-claim one fact that isundisputed is that top secret and incredibly sensitive Customs documents found their way into the criminal fraternity – indeed into the country’s prisons and spectacularly under defendants’ cell doors. How this happened remains a mystery but must have involved a chain of corrupt events which are startling in their scale.

Many of these documents were marked Top Secret and in select cases revealed the secrets of other law enforcement agencies, including the DEA and Interpol. They included details of covert surveillance and incredibly sensitive policing information involving some of the biggest criminal cartels – details so sensitive they could cost lives.

The trail of these documents has sent alarm bells ringing in the Home Office and in other international police forces and certainly has more significance than even the extraordinary event that predicated the opening of this Pandora’s Box.

But this is not just the sttory of one drugs bust – however sensational. Andrew Pritchard has led an extraordinary life. In telling his story, he encompassed the reality of mass immigration from the West Indies into deprived post-war London in the Fifties. A time when the capital was crying out for workers to assist in the newly-formed NHS and the rapidly expanding London Underground.

London’s East End has always been a magnet for immigrants, from 16th century Huguenots to Polish and Jewish tailors at the time of Jack the Ripper at the end of the 19th century. This latest wave of immigration brought with it vibrancy, an explosion of colours and smells, both new and exciting, that would change the fabric of London yet again.

Andrew was known to the police and the underworld from the early 1980s when he was at the centre of the rave scene, which transformed youth culture and drug use in the UK. As a 21-year-old he was running illegal acid house parties, such as the Genesis 1988 events.

Later he went legitimate and staged spectaculars such as the 1999 Sunsplasgh Festival in Victoria Park. This attracted 50,000 revellers to hear A-list artists such as Wyclef Jean and UB40. He was a magnet for the stars of urban black music, including Mel B of the Spice Girls and countless other artists from the UK, USA and Caribbean.

But as well as being a damn good read, there is a serious point at the heart of Andrew’s story.

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