Former international drug smuggler gets high on life
Brian O'Dea talks to IrishCentral about his new autobiography, "High"
“I just knew God was going to kill me and send me to hell forever. This internal thing secretly went on inside my head for years.”
When he discovered something that could take him out of his mind -- drugs -- he became a ripe candidate both as an addict and a supplier.
“At college in Nova Scotia I would buy pot and share it with other people -- because I became a people pleaser -- and I would spend my own tuition on it,” he says.
The transition from pot smoker to pot supplier was remarkably smooth, but O’Dea started out small time.
“My father was in the mind altering business selling booze and he was a good businessman. I used his business model to go from selling nickel bags of pot to selling 75 tons from South East Asia by the mid-eighties,” he says.
Orders kept expanding, which meant travel to other nations. In Jamaica he met many fellow Irishmen who had turned to the life of drug trafficking.
“These were all great guys on the lam. They brought it all in by the boatload to Newfoundland. They ended up living on the run in Jamaica and running operations from down there when they got popped and couldn’t return home.”
To build a nest egg to shore up his pot smuggling activities, O’Dea briefly got involved in the South American cocaine trade, where large amounts of money could be made shipping small amounts of the drug.
“In those days everyone who was doing it seemed to be having fun doing it. But cocaine abuse led to a complete and utter nightmare for me. It had a grip stronger than cigarettes and I couldn’t let go of it for years,” he said.
In the early eighties, after he had cleaned up his own act, O’Dea joined forces with another Irish Newfoundlander he refers to only by his last name, Murphy, who introduced O’Dea to the best drug smuggling operation he had ever seen.
“He introduced me to the very best offload situation imaginable for a pot smuggler, a fishing company in Newfoundland with a complete dry dock facility, everything you would need to make it look like you were a legitimate business,” he says.
“We used that as a beard to smuggle the pot. There were 110 guys working in our operation and all of them knew the real deal. It only came apart right at the end. We got away with it till then. But I ended up with too much money and not enough brains and back hooked on coke again.”
When he got sober, O’Dea went to work as a volunteer in a drug rehabilitation center, where he counseled addicts daily for two years. But then the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) showed up and arrested him for conspiracy to import more than 100 kilos of drugs.
Says O’Dea, laughing, “I got 10 years. What a great gift that was. It was one of my life’s greatest gifts outside of my beautiful family.
“It reinforced my understanding that no matter what had happened in my life I could still remain a reasonable and decent human being, which was really important to help me make it through the rest of my life. It also gave me the time to write my book, and develop a relationship with my parents.
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