Dennis “Howard” Marks, was born August 13th, 1945, and became known as one of the most notorious drug smugglers of his time – his alias was “Mr Nice”. At the peak of his criminal career he was allegedly smuggling consignments of cannabis as large as 30 tons.
Soon after he stopped smuggling and dealing, Marks gained further fame as a pro cannabis campaigner, author, stand-up comedian, actor and a motivational speaker. He revealed smuggling cannabis was his destiny, claiming: “I was a fugitive for six and a half years and I smuggled as much cannabis as I could. I felt that this was my destiny, this was my karma. I suppose I felt like a prizefighter. One day one’s going to get knocked out on the canvas. You have to carry on until you’re beaten.”
On April 10th, 2016, Marks passed away after a year-long battle with inoperable bowel cancer. James Brown, a close friend Marks and the previous editor of Loaded magazine told The Guardian: “He stood for everything we loved. Howard is a bloody great example to us all.”
Here are 8 intriguing facts about the life of Howard “Mr Nice” Marks…
8. He Did Time In One Of America’s Toughest Prisons
For drug smuggling charges and racketeering, Howard Marks spent seven years behind bars at one of the toughest prisons in the U.S – The United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana. The high-security facility holds many death row inmates and is one of the most secure prisons in the country, it also has the worst reputation for gang rape and violence. During his time, he was treated as a potential escapee and spent weeks in solitary confinement.
To avoid confrontation with the other inmates, Marks became the jailhouse lawyer for others and even managed to overturn one inmates conviction. True to his nickname “Mr Nice”, he was known as being “charming and eccentric”, and soon became close friends with Gennaro “Gerry Lang” Langella of the Colombo crime family); James “Jimmy C” Coonan, John “Johnny Carnegs” Carneglia,Vittorio “Little Vic” Amuso and Frank “Frankie Loc” LoCascio of the Gambino crime family; Anthony “Bruno” Indelicato of the Bonanno crime family; and Joey Testa of the Lucchese crime family.
In January 1995, he was granted parole due to him being a “model prisoner”. His charm had got him out of a tough spot again.