Dennis Howard Marks, a notorious cannabis smuggler commonly known as “Mr. Nice,” passed away on April 10th, 2016 from colon cancer. He was seventy years old.
In the later years of his life, Marks was a popular folk celebrity that ran for UK Parliament, wrote autobiographical accounts, and publicly defended the legalization of cannabis. Sensi Seeds, one of the world’s largest and most well-known cannabis seed companies, created a strain called “Mr. Nice” in honor of Marks.
However, the years in which Marks was illegally smuggling cannabis were not always comfortable for him or his family. The Howard Marks story varies depending on which account you choose to trust, but most accounts agree that it was a wild ride.
Looking Back at the Life of an Iconic Trafficker
Dennis Howard Marks was born in 1945 in Kenfig Hill, Wales. He eventually began training to become a teacher at various English colleges between 1967 and 1970.
In 1970, Marks found himself amongst a group of hashish smugglers supplying London dealers. Over the next two years, the group Marks was working with was able to expand their import business to several other European countries including Ireland, Germany, and Wales.
By the end of 1972, Marks was a successful hashish trafficker allegedly making £50,000 with every shipment. Around this time, he began a relationship with MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, because he was connected with many hash-producing countries as well as the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
After a 1973 arrest by Dutch authorities, Marks went into hiding, and secretly returned to England the next year. It was then that he began his relationship with Judy Lane (m. 1980-2005).
From the mid-seventies to 1980, Marks found himself setting up increasingly larger trafficking deals between groups like the American mafia, the Thai and Pakistani Armed Forces, Nepalese monks, and other “Far East connections.”
In 1980, Marks was firmly on the radar of international policing agencies. He was arrested in 1980 and released in 1982. In 1984, he was a part of a botched CIA plot involving $300,000 worth of cannabis. In 1986, he moved to Majorca, where he was able to elude authorities through his many international contacts.
In 1988, Howard and Judy Marks were arrested and extradited to the United States by the DEA. Judy Marks was released after serving a few months in Spain for her minor part in the trafficking ring. Howard Marks was sentenced to 25 years, though he only ended up serving seven at Terre Haute, Indiana’s secure Federal Correctional Complex.
During his time in prison, Marks is said to have made many friends, including notorious criminal bosses, and even took time teaching other inmates about philosophy in the evening hours.
He was released on parole after a prison officer testified he was a model inmate helping fellow prisoners pass their GED exams.
Life After Prison: The Icon Tells His Story
After his 1995 release from prison, Marks began a writing career detailing his international exploits. In 1997, he ran for four Parliament seats at once, all on the single issue of cannabis legalization.
During 2003, Judy and Howard Marks split over alleged infidelity on his part, and the couple officially divorced in 2005. Judy Marks has written her own account of living alongside an acclaimed drug trafficker (Mr. Nice and Mrs. Marks), and has since been very critical about the real nature of the man Howard Marks.
On January 25th of 2015, it was publicly announced that Marks was suffering from inoperable colon cancer. The recent passing of Howard Marks has once again revived the incredible real life story of one of the world’s most successful cannabis dealers.
Marks will be remembered for being a fun, loyal, and eccentric individual with creative and outrageous ideas that pushed smuggling to new limits.