(3:34) The story of "Mr. Sewage and the Vicar" and how an out-of-work actor became
involved in Howard Marks' marijuana smuggling business.
Original Air Date: October 23, 1990
Written and Directed by Christopher Olgiati
The U.S. government believes that for 20 years, this man was one of the biggest
marijuana dealers in the world.
CRAIG LOVATO, DEA Agent:
That amount of hashish in that period of time would account to millions of
dollars of profit for Howard Marks. And if you're looking at it on a street
value, it'd be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Dennis Howard Marks has always denied that allegation.
This would make me $20 million a day. It's ludicrous!
But last Thursday in a Florida courtroom, the British-born, Oxford-educated
Marks was sentenced to 25 years in prison, to be served both in the United
States and Europe. His sentencing brings to an end the saga of a wanted man.
Tonight on FRONTLINE, the story of that manhunt. The target: an infamous drug
dealer who eluded police around the world. The hunter: an obsessed DEA agent
who spent years tracking Marks down.
That was intimidating, to see that he had defeated the system, that he had
an aura about him that he was untouchable.
Through thousands of recorded conversations, surveillance videos and interviews
with the dealers, an investigation into the dark world of an international drug
I was frightened. I mean, listening to these voices and listening to what they
were discussing was like listening to the heart of organized crime.
Tonight, "The Hunt for Howard Marks."
The island of Majorca in Spain. Crime here tends to be rather mundane. Tourists
lose traveler's checks. There are fights in discos. Foreigners who live on the
island incline mostly to quiet respectability. But there was one foreigner
living here who police found tantalizing.
[on telephone] [unintelligible] Can I help you?
Yes, is Lando there please? It's Howard here.
[on telephone] Oh, just hold on.
Interpol had asked them to tap his phone.
[on telephone] Hello?
[on telephone] Yeah, hello.
How are you.
[on telephone] Very well, thank you.
The calls usually were in code.
[on telephone] I'll tell you why, because I think your dog is sick.
[on telephone] Yeah. I think that actually [unintelligible] he's got a new
[on telephone] And it would appear that [unintelligible]
Craig Lovato of the Drug Enforcement Administration tried to decipher them.
I was frightened. I mean, quite literally, listening to these voices and
listening to what they were discussing was like listening to the heart of
At daybreak or earlier, the calls would begin.
He was calling Manila. He was calling Bangkok. He was calling Hong Kong,
Zurich, the United States.
The voice began to obsess Lovato. It exuded infuriating charm. It was
persuasive and civilized. [interviewing] You knew from the outset that this was
a man with an intellect.
I certainly did.
The voice belonged to Dennis Howard Marks. As the DEA computer revealed, Marks
was the stuff of legend-eluding police for years, claiming mysterious
connections with intelligence agencies.
This investigation would lead Lovato into an altogether alien world: Oxford
University, Britain in the '60s. In 1964, a boy from Wales arrived at Balliol
College, Oxford. In time, he'd rent a cottage outside the city. He was
attractive and charming.
1st FORMER CLASSMATE:
He fitted into Balliol, which is a very intellectual college, very well. He was
a very clever guy.
2nd FORMER CLASSMATE:
He was very nice and he was very Welsh and he was a very sort of country
1st FORMER CLASSMATE:
Exudes charm the nicest possible way. He could charm his way out of anything
2nd FORMER CLASSMATE:
He was very considerate and very romantic and lovely.
3rd FORMER CLASSMATE:
He's never wanted to conceal his own myth, and his own myth is very important
For Howard Marks, Oxford was a privileged place to be.
It's predominantly a place of privilege, yes. But exceptions were allowed. You
know, the odd kind of peasant from the valleys was both accepted in and I was
lucky enough to be there.
Marks chosen image, that of working-class hero, went down very well at
LYNN BARBER, Former Classmate:
Nobody was from the same social-I mean-Well, you know, sort of Welsh miners'
sons at Oxford were not thick on the ground in those days.
In reality, Howard Marks wasn't a miner's son. His background was modest but
comfortable. All the same, he conjured up images of poor mining towns, children
stained with coal dust.
You know, I mean, I might say to him, "Did you have coal bath and walk barefoot
to school?" And he would say, "Yes, yes, yes," and then probably would go and
tell somebody else that he kept coal in the bath and walked barefoot to school.
You know, I mean, he-that was one of-part of his image, you know, that he was
this illiterate Welsh miner's son.
At Oxford, Marks became a star. He acquired a retinue of loyal fans.
But it was just that it was hard to see him on his own, except in bed!
Dr. JOHN NICHOLSON, Former Classmate:
To understand what Oxford was like at that period of time-the mid-'60s, late
'60s-fun was absolutely the heart of the thing. Howard personified that thing.
We were the generation that had discovered sex, as we thought. Very loose
controls of an academic sort, all the sort of old morals and things were
collapsing around us. It was a wonderful time and we felt we were right at the
center of it.
In the '40s and '50s, marijuana had been seen as an evil. It was supposed to
drive you crazy. Now, at Oxford, it was everywhere.
A lot of pot was being smoked around Oxford at the time, certainly at any
party. And I just knew Howard as, you know, somebody else who smoked pot.
The old fear of marijuana had gone. Howard Marks needed no encouragement. He
plunged headlong into the drug culture.
When I first smoked marijuana, it was a noticeable experience but terribly
mild. I remember giggling rather more than normally and finding things amusing
and finding time slowing down.
To anyone who'd listen, Marks advocated the legalization of cannabis. At his
cottage outside Oxford, he pursued a blurred but blissful ideal of country
So I went out there on a Friday evening with the lady I was then living with,
for dinner, and eventually got back home into town to discover that it wasn't,
as I thought, Saturday morning, it was Tuesday morning.
Mixing business with pleasure, Marks dispensed marijuana and the occasional
sugar cube laced with LSD, for which he'd make a modest charge.
It was about £3, in those days.
A post-mortem has been held on Brian Jones, the 27-year-old member of the
Rolling Stones who died earlier-
But drugs were beginning to kill. Even at Oxford, Joshua Macmillan, grandson of
the British Prime Minister, overdosed on heroin
My memory is really just of Joshua Macmillan's body being carried down the
stairs. It is a very shocking experience and I'd always been frightened of
heroin before that, and that kind of sealed the issue as far as I was
These were times of startling political and social change. Howard Marks
relished every moment. He thought of being a professor at Oxford, and actually
delivered a lecture.
It went down very well.
Yeah. It was on the differences between Leibnitz and Newton's views on space
Were you surprised that it went down so well?
What was Howard going to do with his life? He was very clever. He hated the
straight life. Given where he was, what sort of person he was, and his great
need for fun, gratification, the money that sort of oiled the wheels of fun, I
guess crime was the obvious thing, really. But the drugs thing was just made
for Howard, I guess.
Come on then, please, friend. I've got a search warrant. I'll show it to you.
All over London, hippies were being busted.
Somebody stand at the door. Nobody goes out.
Howard Marks hoped he was too smart to be caught. Cops seemed boring. Dope
dealers were glamorous and clever.
Traveling a lot and having been to all these exciting places and evading
Customs officers and thinking of schemes to evade them, I found this glamorous
Marks loved the thought of outsmarting authority. He was a perfect '60s
prototype, and now an outlaw.
Craig Lovato, who would later hunt Howard Marks, had spent the '60s rather
differently. What exhilarated him was not dope and upheaval, but the clean,
pure West. Growing up in Colorado, he was barely aware of the campus revolution
just across the Rocky Mountains.
Four million tons of bombs, are twice as many bombs as were dropped in the
entire world, by the United States-
It was very foreign. It was very foreign. It was very far away. It really
didn't impact on us. It was like it was on a different planet.
Anti-war protest, especially, passed him by.
I felt that it was my duty as an American citizen to go to Vietnam and fight
for my country.
Because he was married and had to support young kids, he was turned down for
Vietnam. He hitched a ride to Nevada, looking for work. After going through
college, he ran a gas station, collected rents and drove a truck. In Las Vegas,
he took a poorly-paid job in a casino and lived on his tips.
That's what I and my family subsisted on, as far as food. I mean, my wages
would just pay the rent.
The same year, in England, Howard Marks began to make serious money out of the
drug business. He bought into an expensive Oxford boutique so he could pretend
part of his drug profits came from selling clothes. Some of his old Oxford
friends knew that he was dealing drugs and were intrigued. One of them,
Hamilton Macmillan, had just joined the British intelligence service, MI6, and
made Marks a strange proposal: Could he open foreign branches of his shop as
cover and provide intelligence on the IRA's role in the drug business?
Then he asked me, would I be prepared to befriend a Czech-a girl who was
working at the Czechoslovakian embassy who they thought was a KGB spy. Well, I
leapt at this opportunity, of course!
No matter how slender his link with the intelligence community, the legend of
Howard Marks had begun. He seemed a fantastic mix of spy and smuggler, an
egghead in the underworld.
In Nevada, the young Craig Lovato joined the Las Vegas sheriff's department and
later became a narcotics agent. He graduated to the Drug Enforcement
Administration. As a DEA special agent, he took part in spectacular drug busts.
He tracked planes dropping cocaine to remote Bahamas Islands. But the story of
Howard Marks fascinated him. Among smugglers, Marks was unique. To Lovato, his
career seemed stranger than fiction. In the '70s, police accused him of
shipping tons of cannabis across continents. Marks skipped bail, faked his own
abduction and became a fugitive. At parties in Manhattan or London, he'd show
up barely disguised, then slip back into the shadows. He was a criminal legend.
His reputation was intimidating.
That was intimidating, to see that he had defeated the system, that he had
somewhat created an aura about him that he was untouchable.
Marks was an unconventional fugitive. One night in 1979, the untouchable had
showed up live on stage in London. Flanked by Elvis look-alikes, he flaunted
his invulnerability. By the time his pursuers found out, Marks had disappeared
again. At exactly the same time, he was planning his biggest-ever load. Its
street value would be $30 million.
The plan was to bring in 15 tons of Colombian marijuana into Ireland. That was
the initial plan. It was brought into Scotland in the end.
It was enough to make 20 million marijuana cigarettes.
I think it was the largest amount in Europe at the time. It was a huge
Not long afterwards, he was arrested. At his trial, a witness testified Marks
had only taken part in the deal as an agent of Mexican intelligence.
[interviewing] It is of course alleged that this gentleman had been bribed to
make this assertion.
I know. I've heard the allegation.
For whatever reason, and to everyone's amazement, Howard Marks was acquitted.
Craig Lovato was determined to do what no one else had ever done: give Howard
Marks his comeuppance.
[interviewing] And you did not believe that Howard Marks was untouchable?
Not in the least.
Marks was still dealing drugs. As Lovato discovered, the evidence lay in
Holland. British and Dutch investigators had made an interesting discovery. In
Amsterdam, a man called Jim Hobbs seemed to be taking messages for a drug
THE TELEPHONE OPERATOR
Hobbs, it turned out, had been in jail in England. Now he was working for
Howard Marks. Dutch
police tapped two phone lines in his apartment.
[interviewing] And the telephone lines were connected to what?
JAMES HOBBS, Marks's Associate:
To a call-forwarding device which enabled somebody in any other part of the
world to call Amsterdam and ask for Howard. And I would say, "Hang on a minute,
I'll get him for you," and then dial the number where Howard was at that
moment, whether it be Hong Kong or Spain. And the person making the incoming
call would automatically assume that Howard was sitting in Amsterdam.
I'll be only able to get $800 per British unit.
From Hobbs's cheap apartment, the calls were usually transferred to Howard
Marks's home in Majorca in Spain.
No, I've said OK, all right, because I've double-checked and, you know, it's
like oil. Everything's going down as a commodity. I've said OK to go ahead. Is
that all right with you?
Not two miles away at the island's police headquarters, Craig Lovato huddled in
a tiny office. He followed Marks around the island and eavesdropped on his
Now, regarding transfer of capital, yeah? Now, they can do it themselves to
save money for the account or something like that at the cost of 10 percent.
To listen to individuals on that scale and actually be listening to their
activities as they are ongoing was somewhat of a traumatic thing. You realized
that you had found the bear. Now what were you going to do with him?
Marks would return to his home outside the capital, Palma. He seemed a model
expatriate. He had a baby son and two well-behaved daughters attending a local
school. He'd married Judy Lane, whose distinguished father had little time for
dope dealers. Yet Judy's brothers and sisters seemed to be under Howard's
spell. Two, Lovato thought, were engaged in the drug business. Judy's brother
Patrick, the eldest, moved money for Marks in the United States. Brother George
ran a front organization in Pakistan. All, including sister Natasha, were
devoted to Howard Marks. When he asked a favor, the Lanes were happy to
Lovato believed Marks's brother-in-law George Lane was one of the key players,
flitting around Asia carrying money to pay for drugs.
The only reason people are selling drugs is to gain money and the people who
are handling that money are every bit as important to the organization as the
person who's selling the dope.
THE ENGLISH TEACHER
We found George Lane living as a fugitive in Thailand, on the run from Craig
Lovato and the DEA. It was not how George thought things would end when he
began his friendship with Howard Marks. Years ago in Ireland, Marks charmed
everyone at his wedding.
[reading] God looked at everything he had made and had found it very good. The
evening and morning followed, the sixth day.
Did you have much idea at that point how Howard earned his living?
Oh, I knew totally how he earned his living, yes.
He never made any secret of that?
No, but he had said-what he had said was that that was all in the past.
George was a teacher and needed a job. After the wedding, Marks offered to set
him up in business running a language school in Pakistan.
[interviewing] Did you think it was a little odd that Howard Marks, of all
people, should show such interest in education in Pakistan?
No, not at all, because he had connections there and he said that he wanted to
use some of the money he said he had to invest elsewhere.
As he soon realized, Marks was buying tons of hashish in Pakistan and shipping
it to America.
The school became a total front.
For whatever businesses he was running.
The drug business?
George Lane would phone Marks repeatedly. They'd plan meetings and transactions
somewhere they called "the April place." Listening in, Craig Lovato realized
"the April place" mean Hong Kong. George would travel there frequently. He'd
call Marks at home in Spain, speaking in mysterious code.
Good morning, is this 453-3540?
Yes it is.
Thank you. Calling from Hong Kong. Go ahead, please.
How are you doing
OK, and you-no don't worry.
Everything's finished. All done.
It's all done. And you know the check for the cripples?
Howard Marks had incorporated a fund for crippled children in Pakistan and that
was one of the companies that they used to launder their money through.
Yeah, that's the one. It's for 3,000, yeah?
That's right. Yeah.
Yeah. Do you have my address here?
And George Lane, no two ways about it, was a money launderer?
Lane would visit the Hong Kong branch of a Swiss bank where he'd deposit
checks. He'd withdraw cash and apparently use it to pay Marks's Pakistani
contact for the dope.
[interviewing] Did you ever agree to move funds for Howard- money?
Who, me? I never saw, I saw very little money of Howard's. He gave money for
the school and I always took that, and apparently that's got me in a lot of
The DEA suspects the Marks organization stashed millions of dollars in banks in
Europe and Asia. George Lane, in the end, fled to Thailand. He blames Howard
Marks for his troubles.
I was stupid enough to go along with, you know, the things he said.
What did that do to your life, bluntly?
It destroyed it. Well, I'm stuck here in Bangkok and wanted by police all over
We happened to be there the day he was thrown out of his one-room apartment in
Bangkok. He wishes he had more to show for his years in the service of Howard
He's ruthless. He doesn't care of the consequences of what happens
And will you stop-will you stop-will you stop photographing me?
Sick and very afraid of arrest, George Lane is bewitched by Howard Marks no
longer. Once, Bangkok had been a much happier place for Howard Marks and his
friends. As the DEA discovered, Marks traveled to Thailand constantly. It was
his second major source for cannabis. Marks and his associates had much to
celebrate. From Thailand, they were shipping tons of marijuana to Europe and
[on telephone] Hello, [unintelligible]
Could I speak to Lord Moynihan, please?
Craig Lovato listened to endless calls between Marks and his partners in
No, Howard Marks.
[on telephone] Howard Marks? Would you hold the line a minute?
LORD ANTHONY MOYNIHAN:
Hello Tony, how are you?
I'm very well, Howard. How are you?
I'm fine, thanks. Sorry to be so long-
The voice belonged to Lord Anthony Patrick Andrew Cairnes Berkeley Moynihan. He
was joint proprietor of an unusual barber shop in the basement of a Bangkok
hotel. Today it's under new ownership. In those days, it was called "the
Panache," and was nothing if not versatile: haircuts to the left, other
services to the right.
Clients could either go down to the premises in the basement or could order up
girls on room service. The billing would be done by the hotel so there would be
no indication to a prying wife that anything other than an expensive haircut
had been ordered.
Lord Moynihan ran similar establishments in the Philippines where he lived on a
secluded private estate.
He lived like an English lord and took great pride in being able to get the
sort of things that are difficult to get hold of in the Philippines, like
caviar and smoked salmon.
Today, Lord Moynihan is driven around in a rather weary car, unkindly described
by one British paper as "a pimpmobile." Scandalous stories about him have
filled the British tabloids for years. True or apocryphal, no one quite knows.
In the '60s, the "barmy baron," as they called him, married an exotic dancer
and showed her off in high society. Then, accused of fraud in Britain, he fled
to the Far East. He was found playing the bongos in a Sydney nightclub and was
said to rub shoulders with criminals. In the Philippines, he ran bars and
brothels. He was said to keep a grenade launcher in the trunk of his car. At
home in Manila, Lord Moynihan seemed to merit his eccentric reputation, even
trying to sell Howard Marks an old family war medal.
[interviewing] What was the first proposition, can you remember, that Moynihan
made to you?
Yes, I can. It was wanting me to buy his grandfather's Victoria Cross, which he
was trying to get rid of in order to make some money.
Howard Marks rather liked the Philippines. It was a charmingly erratic society:
Catholic and corrupt, shiningly beautiful and quite lawless. This was the era
of President Marcos. Manila was an imperial capital run by the cronies of the
president. They wallowed in the power and wealth his patronage conferred.
Foreigners as well as Filipinos fawned on Marcos. Those he favored were mostly
above the law. They could do anything. Marks was intrigued and fortunately Lord
Moynihan had friends at court.
I was generally well-connected with the Marcos government, but the Marcos
government had been in power for 20 years and I'd been living here for 20
years. And I would like very clearly to point out that I would have been
well-connected with any government that had been in power for 20 years after
living here for 20 years.
To impress the lord, Marks held a lavish party at Manila's most expensive
hotel. He was flanked by his rather odd associates, flown in from far and wide.
At the party, Moynihan tried to find out how much his new friend was worth.
I knew that Howard was trying to impress Moynihan, and I said that he was worth
possibly $100 million. Moynihan was very shocked by this and was almost licking
Eager to introduce Marks to the people who mattered, Moynihan took him under
his wing. To start with, at least, it seems they talked legitimate business.
Moynihan hoped Marks would invest in a hotel he owned, grandly called "The
MacArthur." Actually it was in the red light district. It had its own massage
parlor and a suite hurriedly renamed after Howard Marks.
Oh, I mean, every day, there'd be something he'd want me to invest in-hotels,
bars, massage parlors, restaurants, anything at all.
Some years earlier, an Australian government crime commission called Lord
Moynihan "a shadowy figure, an associate of Australian drug traffickers. As far
as we know with out evidence," it speculated, "Moynihan is or was in some way
involved in the importation of heroin from Manila." Moynihan flatly denies it.
He does admit, though, that Howard Marks asked him to find hundreds of acres of
land on which to grow cannabis.
I said, "Well, what sort of funds do you have at your disposal?" He said, "Oh,
well, this project would be $10 million, $20 million, $30 million, $40 million,
$50 million. I don't know." And I said, "And do you have that kind of money?"
He said, "Oh, yes! Don't worry about the funds. Just worry about the area." Of
course I thought this was all drunken talk.
He's very anxious to talk to you.
Oh, good. All right.
He wants the deal.
Later, Moynihan spoke to Marks at home in Spain.
No, how long have I got, Tony? I mean-
As yet, he hadn't found anywhere to grow dope but he could buy it from a rich
Australian gangster he'd met in the Philippines.
But, I mean, you know, he's hot at the moment, or he was, right? And, I mean,
he's getting cooler by the day.
One evening, also smoking marijuana, as they all seemed to do, he had informed
me that he was worth well over $100 million.
Could you give me call as soon as you-as soon as you think-
The gangster was desperate to meet the great Howard Marks.
He considered Howard Marks as some kind of a god in his business. He considered
his paltry little $100 million to be, I mean, absolutely nothing.
When Moynihan offered samples of marijuana, Lovato was listening.
Look, I'm offered the product-
-without going any further.
Right. I see. Right.
And it looks great to me, but I think the quality control is something you
would have to know more about than me.
There was no sense, listening to the calls, that this was a game?
None of the conversations that Howard Marks had with any of his associates were
Moynihan did his best to get Marks back to the Philippines.
I mean, I have some samples from- samples of some considerable size-
Oh, do you?
-waiting for you.
When you said you had "some samples of considerable size," what did you
Well, the Australian had gotten samples of marijuana grown in the Philippines
which he wanted to-
This is the Australian with organized crime connections?
Yes, yes. Which he wanted to show to Howard.
Rather than buy someone else's cannabis, Marks preferred to grow his own. The
helpful Moynihan scurried off, looking for a site for the huge plantation Marks
wanted. He found a remote island in the far north of the Philippines. It was
called Fuga, and had a notoriously tricky air strip.
We did go to an island in the northern Philippines, and I couldn't imagine
anywhere more unsuitable for growing dope. I mean, the entire land was flat.
There wasn't a single hill there.
On the contrary, says Moynihan, the island met Howard's every need.
He said he was very impressed by the fact that it was extremely close to major
international shipping lanes.
After their long flight north, the two men stood here on the edge of the South
China Sea. According to Marks, it was all a bit of a joke, a day at the beach.
According to Moynihan, it was deadly serious. Marks had even brought with him
an expert in growing cannabis.
Was Howard's plan to turn the whole island into one huge marijuana
Well, I think so, yes, providing the soil was suitable.
This truly was an island of dreams. Here, Howard Marks might at last have been
untouchable. It seems he was somewhat preoccupied with security. As Moynihan
tells it, he was asked to organize political and military protection.
I said, res." Of course, I have no idea whether I could have done it or not,
however I was not intending to do it. I mean, it was simply that, to me, the
whole thing was a ridiculous story and he was drunk and had been smoking
Tony Moynihan's relationship with Marks was, however, sealed. He became
godfather to one of Marks' daughters and a visitor to the family home in
Majorca. The children had no inkling that one day Uncle Tony would cause their
NATASHA LANE, Marks' Sister-in-Law:
They adored their father, absolutely worshipped their father.
My father, every night before I went to bed, used to teach me. I used to ask
him all the questions I didn't know. I loved listening to all the naughty
things he did at his school. We used to like doing train sets together and he
used to bring all the latest things that they had in Taiwan, things like that,
in Hong Kong.
Their father, because he believes so strongly about how marijuana is not at all
harmful, has never lied to them about his use. He's always smoked dope in front
of them and has always told them about the dangers.
He's told me that the only thing wrong in a, you know, joint, for instance, is
tobacco, but that other drugs are very bad and that you get hooked on them and
people steal and do nasty things for those drugs.
When Marks came home to Majorca, his daughters were delighted.
Often, we used to go out to little restaurants on the top of mountains and we
Marks was a devoted father. On this tourist island he felt safe. He had no way
of knowing Craig Lovato was on his tail. To the expatriates who gathered at
parties at his home, Howard Marks was rather a mystery.
I think the best piece of sort of gossip was that he had massage parlor in
Bangkok, which fascinated everybody.
Geoffrey Kenion had no idea that Howard Marks was in the drug business. A
former actor who played on the London stage, he was struggling to build a
trendy waterside bar. Hearing he was short of money, Marks made a proposal:
Would he care to pick up some cash in America and be paid a small
So is that interesting? The answer is, yes, of course it was interesting at
that particular moment because I was not flush and it was a Godsend, in
As Marks told his cohorts in Manhattan, the courier was going to spend his
share on new plumbing at his bar.
Do you think he'll definitely make it tomorrow?
Oh, yes, I'm certain he will.
They called him '´Mr. Sewage."
Because he was concerned about, I think, the sewage system at his bar.
MR. SEWAGE AND THE VICAR
Did you hear from the sewage engineer?
Which one is this now? Oh, the one-
Marks had a contact, code-named "the Vicar," staying at the Marriott Hotel on
Times Square. The Vicar would give Kenion the money.
Well, he wants to go, yes?
He says with his money, he could build a septic tank!
I didn't have the slightest idea as to the identity of the sewage engineer, but
it was quite obvious that whoever he was, he had been sent to the United States
to bring back money.
Kenion did collect the money at a hotel in Los Angeles. He expected $60,000. In
fact, the Vicar gave him $100,000.
[interviewing] Obviously, this was a little bit more than Howard had suggested
it would be?
It was a little bit more, but at that particular moment I thought, "Oh, that's
lovely. That's a bit more commission."
So quickly and efficiently did Kenion deliver the money that Marks sent him
back to pick up some more. It was the time of the Statue of Liberty
celebrations. The Vicar gave him another $100,000.
[interviewing] Did you think, "This is drug money?"
Yes. Yes, I think I'm prepared to-I guess I did.
Were you now at least a little nervous?
Very. Very nervous!
He was so nervous, in fact, that he packed the money in plastic bags and hid
them on his body. Wearing a thick jacket to cover the bulges, he headed for the
airport and his flight to Spain. It was a very hot day.
So I rushed into the loo the moment we were in the air to try and get these
plastic bags off my body, because, I mean, that's what was making me so hot,
Were they taped to your body?
They were taped to my body, so, I mean, I've got some plastic shirt on,
effectively. And so I rushed into the loo, started to take them off my back and
as I did, all the plastic bags ripped, dropped the money straight down the loo.
And I thought, "Oh, my God!" You know, "You haven't got $100,000 any more." I
mean, a lot of it's dropped through the flap at the bottom. I mean, it didn't
in the end. I seemed to have enough when I arrived at the other end.
So you fished it out?
Oh, yes, certainly.
This strange, inept cartel was making lots of money. In March, 1986, some of
its members seemed to be congregating in beach resorts in Southern California.
They were only a couple of hours on the freeway from the border crossing with
Mexico. Night after night, Lovato tried to decode their phone calls.
How are you doing?
Oh, I've been OK. You know, sort of just twiddling my thumbs, really. But
They seemed to be bringing seven tons of hashish into a Mexican port. Then
somehow they'd smuggle it across the border into California.
Yes. United States calling for Howard Marks, please.
Marks sounded tired and apprehensive.
How are you doing?
OK, and you?
There was mysterious talk of champagne and Mozambique.
Champagne in Mozambique.
Oh, no! Really?
Plainly, Marks was relieved.
They began to celebrate over the phone with one another, so it's obvious that
the load has arrived in Mexico.
So "Mozambique" has to mean Mexico?
And "champagne" has to mean the marijuana?
"Mozambique" didn't, for example, mean Mexico?
And "champagne" didn't mean dope?
South of the Mexican border towns, as Lovato knew, there was infinite
corruption. Traffickers could buy their ships into port. They could use
hundreds of air strips. Drug couriers would drive through holes in the fence.
Some, the ones with smaller loads, would just brazen it out at Customs. This
time, the Marks organization seemed to be having problems. From a hotel in Los
Angeles, Marks' contact called him to discuss how they'd bring their huge load
We're having to use a FP.
Yes, OK. Yeah.
Lovato thought "FP" meant "fast, private"-a plane.
Because we were going to go, you know, on the highway, you know?
In some mysterious way, Marks' associate was going to transport the dope across
the border, eluding Customs and the border patrol. On the phone, they
complained to Marks in code about problems on the border.
We've had real bad weather, you know? And so we don't have anything from
"Bad weather" seemed to mean exceptional security, a border patrol clamp-down
on aliens and drugs. Whoever was going to come across with the load could not.
Then abruptly the clouds cleared. The dope was in L.A.
Well, Merry Christmas! Happy birthday.
Oh, good. Thanks so much. Yeah. I love you. Bye -bye. now.
The DEA traced Marks' contact to a Beverly Hills hotel. They raided the room,
but instead of the millions they expected, they found just $50,000 and a kilo
of hash. Marks now knew he was being watched.
Early one morning, the Vicar called him from Los Angeles with disturbing
Yes, I can. Yes.
Yeah, but you must go out, you see?
Yes, of course.
I tell you why, because I think, you see, I think your dog is sick.
"Your dog is sick" meant "your phone is bugged."
Yeah, I think so, because after-
When you heard that, what did you feel?
A cold icy hand around my throat.
Regarding the sickness of the dog, is it seriously ill, do you think, or-
Because you thought that the calls were simply going to dry up?
That would be the logical thing to expect at that point, yes.
Lovato says Marks played classical records down the phone to annoy his unseen
I sensed a certain desperation in him. I think there was a fear there that we
were closing in.
The tide was turning in the DEA's favor. The best news for Craig Lovato came
quite unexpectedly from Asia. In the Philippines, President Marcos had fallen.
Lord Anthony Moynihan had lost a friend.
I personally never believed that it could possibly happen. I believed he was in
total control of every aspect of the country.
At a stroke, Lord Moynihan's political protection had been stripped away. The
DEA would play on his vulnerability. They set out to turn Lord Moynihan, to
persuade him to betray his old friend Howard Marks. A DEA man took him to see
an army camp outside Manila. It was a treatment center for drug users, young
men who'd started on cannabis and moved to cocaine. Moynihan says he saw the
He convinced me of the extreme evil of the drug-running business, even to the
extent that it may well be more evil even than gun-running.
In their approach to Lord Moynihan, the DEA were very persuasive. They told him
he could be indicted under American conspiracy laws even though he hadn't set
foot in the United States.
Once we pointed that out to him and demonstrated that he was prosecutable under
our law, then his only question was what he had to do to alleviate the
situation that he'd gotten himself
At the DEA's office in Manila, flanked by two British detectives, Lovato told
him exactly what he had to do: go and see Howard Marks and record the
conversation on a hidden tape recorder. He agreed.
The eventual tape recorder that I got was really quite bulky. In fact, had I
known that this was the best that they could produce, I probably could have
bought something better in Hong Kong myself. But naturally one supposes that
the American government is going to have the latest gadgets.
Moynihan arrived in Majorca, ostensibly for a holiday with the Marks family. He
was bothered less by his conscience than by his clumsy tape recorder.
If the tape runs out, there's a very embarrassing loud click, so I always had
to be very sure that the conversations were short.
What he was doing would devastate Howard Marks' life.
I saw in him an evil which I had not seen in him previously.
And the evil was?
That he was leading a lot of children towards drugs.
For hours the two sat together talking. Once, Marks introduced him to an
associate who was very suspicious.
He said, "For example, you might be taperecording this conversation." Well, I
mean, you can imagine I nearly had kittens when he said that.
Marks said he did two or three big cannabis deals a year. Heroin he wouldn't
He said that that was evil and there's no way that he would ever do that. He
said there were a lot of things perhaps more profitable, like guns and such,
and he'd never done any of those, either.
Marks fell deeply into the trap. He even sent Moynihan to see his financial
adviser, his brother-in-law, Patrick Lane, who lived in Miami.
PATRICK LANE, Marks' Brother-in-Law:
When we had seen Howard the previous summer, the children had told us about
Uncle Tony and about his big palace in-not only was he a lord, but he was a
close friend of Marcos. He had a big palace in the Philippines. But Howard's
children seemed very, very fond of him. The whole thing was just 100 percent
Moynihan would set up Lane as deftly as he had Howard Marks. He joined Lane and
a DEA undercover agent in a Miami hotel. Lane's in the middle, the agent on the
left. Pretending they had drug money to launder, they asked Patrick Lane to
What we did is we concealed a camera in a briefcase and we put a couple in the
hotel, in the restaurant area, having their lunch. And of course the camera was
inside the briefcase which pointed directly at the table at which Moynihan met
with Patrick Lane.
I said, 'Well look, I have a few million dollars that I need I need to launder
out of the United States. Can you assist me with that?" He said, "Oh, well," he
said, "you know these things are getting very expensive, but I think probably
for 7.5 percent, I'll be able to do it."
Lane demanded a down payment of $5,000. Moynihan agreed. It was a classic DEA
Once he told me that he would be willing to give me $5,000, I told him I'd do
whatever he wanted.
So that money would what, show up in an account somewhere, of Moynihan's
choosing, cleansed of any criminal connection?
Well, I don't know that "cleansed"-simply turn out wherever-I mean, that's all
I could do is send it to wherever he wanted it.
With Howard Marks and Patrick Lane safely on tape, Moynihan left for home, his
job done. Majorca, a July morning in 1988. Unknown to Marks, Craig Lovato was
at the gates. The arrest of the Marks family was an event Lovato had long
They were armed. One of them put a gun into my stomach.
My sister, when she was crying downstairs, asked him why they were arresting
him, why he was in handcuffs, because apparently she was trying to hug him. And
Craig Lovato told her that he was a drugs baron and he was being arrested and
taken to America.
Simultaneously in five countries, 22 of Marks' associates were arrested. They
included Geoffrey Kenion, once known as "Mr. Sewage," and Patrick Lane, the
money man. Marks' wife Judy was devastated when Craig Lovato told her she, too,
might be extradited.
She was quite verbal in her response and quite vulgar.
What about the children?
They voiced their mother's vulgarity word for word. I was quite shocked because
they're quite young.
What was the sentiment behind that vulgarity?
Clearly anti-establishment and anti-law enforcement.
Despite a desperate legal struggle, Marks was extradited to Miami, the capital
of the drug business. The DEA never asserted Marks sold anything harder than
cannabis or that he ever used violence. They did believe he had a great deal of
money stashed in bank accounts all over the world.
I have no money in accounts in any part of the world, absolutely none.
Although the DEA knew Marks had been bringing dope into the country for years,
they couldn't actually find the money.
[interviewing] Isn't it rather a sad state of affairs, if you've been running
dope for such a long time, that you have nothing to show for it?
I think the conclusion is obvious. I have nothing to show for it and therefore
I have not been running dope for a long. time.
Today, Howard Marks, the '60s icon who really believed in peace, love and
cannabis, feels himself a victim of an unfair law, a law that makes him as
guilty as those who deal in heroin and crack. Lovato does not think his time
would have been better spent chasing crack dealers. The law doesn't distinguish
between soft and hard drugs. To him, Marks is simply a criminal. He does not
accept that Marks' only crime is to have clung to the values of the '60s.
He's virtually destroyed the lives of everybody he's come in contact with.
Awaiting his sentence in Florida, Howard Marks says if anything, he's proud of
the way he's spent his life. His faith in cannabis is undented.
[interviewing] Could you cope with a long period in jail?
Oh, I could survive it, yes. I mean, it's fairly easy to survive long periods
of incarceration. It's not difficult to do that.
Cut off from everybody?
Uh-huh. Yes. I would survive it, yeah.
[Graphic: On October 18, 1990, Dennis Howard Marks was sentenced to 25 years in
drug warriors ·
$400bn business ·
npr reports ·
teacher's guide ·
tapes & transcripts ·
pbs online ·
web site copyright 1995-2014
WGBH educational foundation.