Incredible Story of British Stock Broker Who Became A Drug Kingpin In United States

Incredible Story of British Stock Broker Who Became A Drug Kingpin In United States


May 16, 2002 – Scottsdale, Arizona. Thirty four year old Shaun Attwood was working
from home, making trades on the stock market online when a 20 member swat team suddenly
burst into his apartment. Wielding guns, the police yelled at Attwood
to get down on the floor. He was handcuffed and arrested, charged with
money laundering and conspiracy. Ironically, Attwood, persuaded by his girlfriend,
had already given up his wild life as Arizona’s biggest ecstasy Kingpin and settled down to
domestic bliss. In fact, Attwood thought he had gotten away
with it all… Shaun Attwood was born to Derick and Barbara
Attwood on October 28, 1968. He grew up in Widnes, a small chemical manufacturing
town near Liverpool in northwest England. His loving parents encouraged him to excel
at school and he did. As a teen, Attwood became interested in the
stock market. With some books and the help of his economics
teacher, Attwood began to learn about stocks. Soon he was reading The Financial Times. By age 16 Attwood had made his first trade,
ending up doubling the pocket money given to him by his grandmother. A few times teenage Attwood visited his expat
aunts who lived in Arizona. He found America dazzling, from the hot desert
sun to the wide open space and swimming pools. He considered the US a promised land where
anyone could make it. In 1987 after graduating high school and completing
A Levels in maths, physics, and economics, Attwood enrolled at the University of Liverpool. At the time, the rave scene was sweeping across
the UK. Invited by a classmate for a night out at
the ThunderDome club in Manchester, shy, anxiety ridden Attwood tried ecstasy and speed for
the first time. He loved how the drugs made him feel; with
new found confidence fueled by his high, he was able to talk to anyone. Attwood was quickly sucked into the rave scene,
spending each weekend partying. Despite his wild social life, he graduated
with First Class Honors in a Business Studies degree. He sought a job in London, but was unable
to find one. In the summer of 1990, Attwood flew out to
Arizona. He didn’t have authorization to work in the
US. However, an aunt worked in the fraud detection
business and knew exactly how to help him to make a convincing fake H-1B work visa. Attwood got a job as a commission-only stockbroker. He lived cheaply and worked hard, cold calling
500 numbers a day. Five years later, Attwood was a top earner,
with a salary of over half a million a year with his own secretary and cold callers. But the long hours and stressful job took
a toll on Attwood, he had ‘BOBS’ – Burnt Out Broker Syndrome. Attwood began blowing off steam by throwing
parties on the weekends. Wanting to be known as a big spender, he started
buying 50 ecstasy pills at a time from a local dealer and giving them away to friends. In the mid-90s, ecstasy in the US was expensive
–it could run $30 a hit. Attwood became committed to importing the
UK rave scene to Arizona. Eventually, the hectic double life became
too much for Attwood. In 1997, he quit his stockbroking day job
and invested his substantial savings into technology shares. As the dot-com bubble grew, Attwood’s portfolio
became worth around $2 million. By this time, Attwood was throwing raves in
the desert, in apartments and in a warehouse in West Phoenix; wherever he could set up. However, he had trouble with getting a steady,
quality supply of drugs. Frustrated with his small time local dealer,
Attwood went to Los Angeles to purchase from someone higher up on the chain. He came back with 1,000 pills. Attwood became a fulltime ecstasy dealer,
buying tablets for around $10 each and selling them for between $25 and $30 a pop. One night, Attwood gained protection from
the New Mexican Mafia by accident. Attwood was hosting a house party. The crowd was mostly college age partiers,
however one guy stood out. A tough Mexican with huge tatted up arms. He was there to deal cocaine, crystal meth
and weed. Since Attwood only sold ecstasy, he didn’t
see the other dealer as competition. The pair started chatting and the dealer introduced
himself as G-Dog. Suddenly a policeman arrived. After smelling weed, the policeman pulled
out a gun and aimed it at the partiers, shouting for no one to leave. G-Dog pulled out his gun, pointed it at the
cop and said “The only one who isn’t going to leave is you, motherf—–.” The crowd scattered. Attwood and his friends hid in another apartment. The police began going door to door in the
complex as helicopters shone down spotlights. There was a sudden pounding on the French
window at the back of the apartment, and they assumed it was the cops. But it was G-dog asking for shelter. Attwood agreed and the group spent the rest
of the night silently hiding in the apartment in the dark. Sometime later police knocked on the door,
but they eventually left after there was no response. The next morning, Attwood drove G-Dog home. In thanks for hiding him, G-Dog pledged that
he and his brothers would have Attwood’s back. At first, Attwood had no idea what this meant. A few months later, G-Dog invited Attwood
to come meet his “brothers.” Attwood found himself at a New Mexican Mafia
hangout, full of guys in sagging pants, chains, and tattoos. A TV showed CCTV footage of the surrounding
area. Next to it was the biggest TV Attwood had
ever seen. On top of the huge TV, the gang displayed
their rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Attwood was terrified, but relaxed when the
group joked with him and offered him protection. The rave scene in Arizona was growing. Attwood expanded his drug dealing business. He sold mainly ecstasy, but also Special K
and LSD. He began ordering several thousand ecstasy
tablets at a time from his LA connection. He hired a team of people to work for him
and paid them in cash, cars and apartments. Eventually, Attwood wanted to bypass his dealer
in LA and purchase straight from the source. He found out that the ecstasy was being made
some 5,000 miles away in Amsterdam, Holland. With his fraudulent visa, Attwood realized
he couldn’t leave the US. So he sent some of his employees to Europe
on “fact finding missions.” Happy with the samples they brought back,
Attwood began testing different methods of smuggling the drugs. At first, Attwood’s mules only carried around
5,000 pills at a time, but, as they became more confident, they smuggled up to 40,000
pills per mission. Mainly his employees would go to Germany or
France and then take a train to Amsterdam. They would fly back to North America via Mexico
and then smuggle the drugs over the US border. The drugs were hidden in luggage, computer
towers or vitamin bottles. Attwood imported ecstasy at $3 a pill from
Holland and sold it for $10 a pill to his team of sellers. By 1999, Attwood had amassed a drug dealing
empire. Hundreds of people worked for him; he was
the biggest Ecstasy dealer in Arizona. Attwood became nicknamed ‘The Bank of England’
because he had so much money. He was also dubbed the Wolf of Widnes, a play
on the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’. Attwood’s main enforcers were his childhood
pal WildMan and his New Mexican Mafia buddy G-Dog. To support his operation, Attwood came up
with an elaborate money-laundering system, flying old friends over from Widnes to the
US to set up bank accounts, which he then used for illegal activities. At the height of his operation, Attwood had
his own rave clothing line, a music store and a personal LSD chemist. He lived among the very rich in an opulent
mountainside mansion with his third wife, a topless dancer and internet porn star. He travelled by limo and acquired several
luxury apartments, one of which was just to store his ill-gotten gains. Attwood was taking drugs as well as selling
them. He took upwards of 10 ecstasy pills every
weekend, as well as GHB, crystal meth, valium, xanax and ketamine. Attwood’s chaotic life was peppered with
extreme moments of paranoia; It wasn’t just the drugs–Salvatore Gravano aka ‘Sammy
The Bull’, a former henchman for the Gambino Crime Family who had once testified against
John Gotti set up a rival ecstasy distribution ring. Sammy took a hit out on Attwood and once plotted
to kidnap him from a nightclub, but Attwood managed to foil his plans. In late 2000, the dot-com bubble burst, and
Attwood’s stocks lost most of their value. Meanwhile, Attwood struggled to maintain order
among his crew, quite often playing referee to their squabbles. Most of his squad was doing so much crystal
meth they were growing reckless, paranoid and plotting against each other. A few of his employees were caught smuggling
drugs at airports around the world. Eventually Attwood fell in love. His new girlfriend Claudia, who wasn’t into
the rave scene convinced him to stop his wild ways. Tired of the havoc, Attwood began to wind
down his partying and slow his drug use. Furthermore, Attwood stopped dealing and tried
to rid himself of connections to his Ecstasy Empire. ]He moved in with Claudia and began to improve
his life. But it was too late, for the last five years
Attwood had been under federal investigation, complete with undercover cops following him
and thousands of wire taps. The DEA, US Customs and three Arizona police
forces created a joint task force to bring Atwood down. Furthermore, the police were able to get ten
witnesses to come forward to testify against Attwood. On a quiet spring day in 2002 the police finally
arrested Attwood. Naively, Attwood thought he had to be caught
red-handed with drugs in order to get arrested. Per Arizonian laws, the police had seven years
to convict for any drug offence committed and they do not require physical evidence
of the drugs themselves. All of Attwood’s assets were seized by the
State of Arizona. Attwood was remanded to the notoriously tough
Maricopa County jail run by controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio. For the next 26 months he lived in a tiny
maximum-security cell with two steel bunks and a seatless toilet. Attwood struggled to survive the brutal conditions
at the jail, including extreme heat, cockroaches, rotten food, violent inmates and murderous
guards. Drug smuggling was common with many prisoners
addicted to crystal meth or heroin. Stabbings, assault and rape were frequent–gangs
had more control over the jail than the gaurds did. To deal with stress Attwood began keeping
a journal. On bits of paper he wrote entries using a
golf pencil sharpened on his cell door. His aunt visited him frequently and she would
smuggle out his writings. She would then type them up and email them
to Attwood’s parents. Attwood’s father Derick created a blog called
‘Jon’s Jail Journal’ and would post the entries there. He kept the blog anonymous since Attwood feared
reprisal from guards. Eventually the popular blog began to draw
media interest worldwide as the dangerous conditions at Maricopa County jail were exposed. After serving over two years prior to sentencing,
Attwood signed a plea bargain, admitting guilt for drug-dealing and money laundering. He was sentenced to nine and a half years,
thereby avoiding a maximum 200 year jail sentence if his case had gone to trial. In July of 2004, Attwood was moved to the
Arizona Department of Corrections to serve out his time. His living conditions improved, although the
prisoners were just as violent and dangerous as the ones he left behind. Attwood continued to write Jon’s Jail Journal
blog entries now, more about the unique, colorful prisoners he met rather than his living conditions. In prison Attwood attended therapy and read
voraciously, starting with classic literature. He studied psychology and philosophy to help
him better understand himself and his life choices. Attwood claims he read around 1,000 books
in just over six years. Attwood was released in December of 2007,
after having served about 6 years of his sentence. He was deported to the UK, and banned from
the US for life. Temporarily Atwood moved back in with his
parents, and initially struggled to adjust to life post prison. Cocaine was trendy in the UK and various connections
kept calling Attwood asking for his help in establishing a cocaine import business to
the UK. Attwood continued to write and in 2008 won
a short story competition with an entry about prison life. As a result of his win, Attwood was assigned
an author to mentor him. Several months later, Attwood received a publishing
deal for his first book which was about his experience in America’s toughest jail. Since then, Shaun Attwood has published several
books about drugs and the prison system including two more books regarding his wild life of
drug dealing and subsequent punishment. He continues to update Jon’s Jail Blog,
publishing letters he’s received from prisoners. He also campaigns for humane jail conditions. In addition to being an author, Attwood is
a speaker who’s given TED talks and also has spoken to school children across the UK
and Europe about drugs and the consequences of his lifestyle. He hopes to prevent youths from making the
same mistakes he did. Attwood feels the speeches he makes and the
guidance he offers atones for his former life more than the incarceration sentence he served. What are some ways you think recidivism can
be lessened? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
called The White American Who Climbed the Ranks of the Chinese Mafia – The White Devil! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

100 thoughts on “Incredible Story of British Stock Broker Who Became A Drug Kingpin In United States

  1. Lots of you have said he visited your school… What did you find most interesting about him? How would you describe him?

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