How a privileged son of Newfoundland became one of the world's most efficient marijuana traffickers – and then gave it all up.
An intriguing ad ran in the Employment Wanted section of a Toronto newspaper in February 2001:
FORMER MARIJUANA SMUGGLER
Having successfully completed a ten-year sentence, incident free, for importing 75 tons of marijuana into the United States, I am now seeking a legal and legitimate means to support myself and my family.
Business experience: Owned and operated a successful fishing business—multi-vessel, one airplane, one island and processing facility. Simultaneously owned and operated a fleet of tractor-trailer trucks conducting business in the western United States. During this time I also participated in the executive level management of 120 people worldwide in a successful pot-smuggling venture with revenues in excess of $100-million US annually...
Among the advertiser's references was the US district attorney who was responsible for his arrest in 1990 and who had reminded the trial judge that the offence could carry the death penalty. The ad made news around the world and also captured the resilient spirit of Brian O'Dea, a remarkable man who, even in his darkest hours of addiction and criminality, never lost the love of family and friends.
The O'Dea family is well known in government and legal circles in Newfoundland. But the family's prominence could not protect their middle son from sexual abuse at the hands of priests. Brian became the black sheep, and turned to drugs in his late teens for the money, for the excitement, and for an escape from himself. Twenty-five years later, when the cops finally knocked on his door at the end of a massive DEA investigation, he had given up the trade and was a recovered cocaine addict working as a drug addiction counsellor in Santa Barbara. He had finally begun to understand how he had ended up in the drug world. He was tried and sentenced to ten years to be served at Terminal Island federal prison in Los Angeles Harbor.
High interweaves extracts of his prison diary – perceptive, funny and alarming all at once – with the vivid recounting of his outlaw years and the dawning recognition of those things in his life that were worth living for.
From the Hardcover edition.
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