The Fleet Street journalist who chronicled the crimes of a Blackpool drugs kingpin

John Alan Brooks
John Alan Brooks
Share this article

A former Fleet Street journalist who chronicled the crimes of a Blackpool drugs kingpin has penned a new book.

Peter Walsh’s Drug War: The Secret History tells the tale of the UK’s war on drugs, and has unearthed fresh details of smuggler John Alan Brooks.

Brooks, aka Mr Big, was the ringleader behind a plot to smuggle 1.5 tonnes of cocaine into Britain, and lived a life of luxury before being brought to justice.

Mr Walsh, whose books have sold more than 500,000 copies, was the only person on the press bench at Brooks’ last trial, and said the book is the result of years of work.

“The first interview I did was six years ago, but I was doing background research for about five years before that,” he said.

Brooks was jailed for 28 years in 2012 over the plot, which would have seen cocaine worth £150m flood the streets of Britain.

Instead, the class A drug was seized in a yacht off the coast of Ireland in 2008.

After living what was described in court as a “lavish cash lifestyle” in southern Spain, Brooks was ordered to hand over £3.6m, which he appealed against in 2016.

A one-time car dealer, Brooks had lived and worked on the Fylde coast, with addresses in St Annes Road, South Shore; and Garstang Road East, Poulton; before fleeing to live the high-life in Spain in the 1980s.

As well as revealing fresh details about him, Mr Walsh’s book also chronicles the first major barons, and covers the 1960s until 2006, when the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) launched and took over smuggling investigations from HM Customs and Excise.

Mr Walsh added said: “I was a newspaper reporter always interested in investigations. I ended up making investigative documentaries for BBC Radio Five in the late ‘90s, and I did stuff on drugs, guns, and gangs there. It occurred to me that nobody had written a modern history of the UK drugs trade.”