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From The Royal Navy To Banged Up In Morocco - A Smuggler's Story

From The Royal Navy To Banged Up In Morocco - A Smuggler's Story

'Boris' was subjected to waterboarding in Moroccan torture cells.

Claire Reid

Claire Reid

Living on the Costa Del Sol during the 1990s, 'Boris' had an uncomplicated life. He worked as a diving instructor, spent his days in the sunshine and his evenings getting involved in the local nightlife.

What he didn't know was that he had been spotted by a bunch of men who needed the skills he had picked up during his time in the Royal Navy, combined with his 'innocent' look, to help them smuggle drugs from Morocco to Europe.

"I was really naïve about it all," Boris, the name he currently chooses to go by, tells LADbible.

"I was head-hunted by these guys. I didn't really know what it was all about. They were just looking for a man who was able to use a boat and was happy to spend time at sea. They liked me because I looked innocent. Most of these fellas, they looked like criminals, whereas I always looked trustworthy."

So, that was that, Boris agreed to get on-board. It was easy money but what is most striking about Boris' attraction to smuggling was the excitement of it all.

Boris and another crew member. Credit: Supplied

"There's no adventure like it," he says. "When you're out there on the sea, it's exciting. I'd been all over as a submariner in the Royal Navy, but's incomparable."

Boris, originally from Nottingham, soon found that his new life was a far-cry from his days in the Royal Navy, or the happy life he'd made for himself teaching holiday-makers how to dive. Instead, he was now spending weeks on a boat full of hash with hardened criminals.

"Sometimes it was like working on a floating rehab centre," he recalls. "Because we'd be away for weeks at a time, junkies would come along to use the opportunity to get clean. They mostly kept themselves to themselves. They were no trouble.

"Mixed in with this, I'd be working with some real hard cases," he remembers. "One guy, Chunky, he had his ear clipped, like a dog, to show his gang affiliation. I'd never seen anything like it. And then there was me."

The crew exported the drugs from Morocco to Spain, France, Switzerland and, in the early days, the UK. And, while admittedly not dealing with the kind of sums of money associated with cocaine smuggling, Boris and his crew were still earning a decent wedge - earning up to a quarter of a million Euros for a week's work (that's £219,000 a week at 2017's exchange rates).

Boris is pictured in the circle, on the left, alongside fugitive drug baron Ronald Donati. Credit: Supplied

"It was a great life," says Boris. "Out on the sea was great and then back on land was great. I was treated like a celebrity. I was moored up at one of the most prestigious docks in Spain and everyone knew who I was. Everyone was always happy to see me.

"I had so many women around me that, at one point, the police began investigating us because they thought we were running a prostitution racket. When the chief of police found out what it was we were actually doing, he said, 'Oh, only hash? Good luck to them'. That was the sort of environment we worked in. As long as you kept the authorities happy with payment, they turned a blind-eye.

"When we got caught in 2007 - that was with 4.5 tonnes of hash - we only got caught because one of the men involved didn't bribe someone he should have. He took the money and bought a house. The bastard."

He adds, casually: "He's dead now. I think someone killed him."

Ah, yeah. The downside to becoming a smuggler, the risk. Boris and his crew were caught by Moroccan Marines two miles away from the coast. As they were loading the hash onto the boat, a couple of local fishermen warned them that the Marines were out and about in the area, but Boris believed they'd been bribed. It was only once they were out on the open water and they saw the gun-boat coming towards them that he realised what was going on.

"The next thing we knew there were guns pointed at us and we were being ordered stop," he remembers. "We were handcuffed, at gun point, and brought back to the shore. When we arrived on-land it was like the whole town had turned out, the local mayor, a bunch of journalists. Everyone came out to see us. They'd made a sort-of wall with the hash. Four and a half tonnes is a lot."

As a result of being caught, Boris was sentenced to 10 years in a Moroccan prison and slapped with a hefty fine. Having spent time inside prisons in the UK, Spain and Morocco, he's become a bit of an expert. In fact, Boris is a bit like Trip Advisor for prisons.

"I'd much rather spend time in a Moroccan prison than a British one," he explains. "In Morocco, they let your family come and visit, you can have a mobile phone and the food is amazing. I'd heard that the food in Spanish prisons was pretty good, but that's not what I found. None of the other prisoners would believe me when I told them they were serving up better grub in Morocco.

Credit: Supplied

"But in Spain, the guards are great. We'd sit around playing poker in our cells with the guards. We were all smoking joints. It was very laid back."

Still, it wasn't all fine dining and spending time with loved ones. In fact, if this was a Trip Advisor review then surely the Moroccan prison would lose itself some marks for waterboarding.

"It's hard to describe waterboarding," says Boris. "I was blindfolded and my arms tied up, before the cloth was placed over my mouth. I felt helpless. I was helpless. Once they started pouring the water onto my face, I was completely unprepared, it went down my throat, into my nostrils. I was panicking. The more I was panicking, the more I was inhaling. I began thrashing about. I felt like I was drowning. And then, suddenly, the cloth was removed and I was able to gulp in some air.

"Then it happened again, but this time I was prepared. I was a Navy diver, I could hold my breath for around three minutes, but these guys didn't know that, so it gave me an advantage. I started thrashing around, like I was really struggling, after about a minute. They'd go on a couple of seconds longer and then remove the cloth. They got nothing out of me."

In a piece of good fortune, the type that seems to follow Boris around, he was granted a royal pardon after just two years.

Credit: Supplied

"All the foreign prisoners got sent home," he says. "And the locals had time taken off their sentences. It happened every few years in the Moroccan prisons. When we were being sentenced, there had been a royal pardon, we knew we'd missed that one, but were hopeful there'd be another one soon."

Once released, he moved back to the UK. His fortune gone. Is he tempted to go back to smuggling? "Nah, there's no money in it anymore. Hash has decreased in value so much since back then."

So, now he lives a quiet life - on a houseboat. You'd think he'd have had enough of boats, but apparently not - and he uses the name Boris.

He's had a string of names in his lifetime - 'all legal and above aboard' - to help him move on and distance himself from his past.

"I'll probably change it again soon," he concludes. "It's easily done. I'm happy here in the UK for the summer, but once winter is here, I want to go back to Spain. Fuck this weather."

Featured Image Credit: Supplied

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