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The Fascinating Story Of How Howard Marks Became Known As 'Mr Nice'

Liam Bond

| Last updated 

The Fascinating Story Of How Howard Marks Became Known As 'Mr Nice'

Earlier today news broke that "the most sophisticated drugs baron of all time" had passed away following a battle with cancer.

Howard 'Mr Nice' Marks had absolutely no regrets about doing "so many funny, shocking, illegal things" and recounted fascinating stories about his criminal past up until his death on Sunday.

At his most notorious, Marks was the most wanted man in Great Britain and had business links with the American Mafia, Pablo Escobar, and with the IRA.

He spoke candidly about his exploits in the 1996 international best-selling memoir 'Mr. Nice', which came out just a year after he was released from the Federal Correctional Complex in Indiana. He served seven years behind bars, despite being sentenced to 25 years for trafficking charges.


After the success of his autobiography, Marks became a pop culture icon and spent many years campaigning for the legalisation of marijuana.

If you haven't read the book, you'd be forgiven for thinking that his famous alias - Mr Nice - came from the fact that despite being one of the most wanted men in the world, Marks always came across as a really affable and down-to-earth man from South Wales.

In his memoirs, Marks recalled how he actually adopted the alias after using the passport of convicted murderer Donald Nice.


"I had been declared the most wanted man in Great Britain. A new identity was vital. I'd already gone through about 20 different identities.

"We drove to Norwich. After a couple of awkward meetings with go-betweeners, I was introduced to a gentle guy named Donald.

"'I need a passport, Don, one that'll stand up to checks'.

"'You can have mine. I won't be needing one. But there's one problem'.


"'What's that?'

"'I've just done 12 years of a life sentence for murder'.

"'I'll give you a grand for it,' I said. 'And a few hundred quid from time to time when I need more back-up. What's your last name, Don?'



"'How do you spell it?'

"'N-I-C-E, just like the place on the Riviera'.

"It was up to Don how he pronounced his name. But I knew I would pronounce it differently. I was about to become Mr Nice."

The book was adapted for the big screen in 2010 with Marks' fellow Welshman Rhys Ifans portraying him.


What a life.

RIP Howard Marks.

Words by Liam Bond.

Liam Bond
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