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Cocky (paperback): The Rise and Fall of Curtis Warren, Britain's Biggest.....: The Rise and Fall of Curtis Warren, Britain's Biggest Drugs Baron Paperback – 10 Apr 2001
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'Next to Warren, the Krays were pathetic minnows.'
-- THE OBSERVER
From the Publisher
'Compelling' - the Observer, May 14th, 2000.
Observer chief reporter John Sweeney writes:
"Once upon a time, a Scouser in a shellsuit with the head of a bullet on the neck of an ox turned up at the Squires Gate helipad in Blackpool and went for a flying lesson in a helicopter. He paid £750 in cash. The notes were crisp and new. The chopper flew up and away over the Irish Sea, leaving the effluent plume from the Mersey and the metal prick of the Blackpool Tower far below. The chopper flew north over the grey, scudding sea to the peninsula of Barrow-on-Furnace where they turn out nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy. The Scouser pointed to a big square of grass down below, the grounds of the non-league Barrow Athletic Football Club, and said: `I own that.' Some boast. But it turns out that he wasn't short of a bob or a hundred million pounds. The scally's name was Curtis Warren, his nickname Cocky Watchman, Scouse slang for a dodgy caretaker, and he was, some say, the Cali cartel's agent for northern Europe. Her Majesty's Customs and Excise had a different name for him: Target One.
He's banged up now, serving a 12-year-stretch in Vught prison in the Netherlands, a former Nazi concentration camp, for importing enough cocaine into Europe to keep the London advertising industry happy until the year 2010. Meanwhile, British Customs officers and policemen, working in tandem for a Dutch judge, are beginning to unpick a fraction of Cocky's missing millions. Forget Kenneth Noye. He was just a fence, albeit for the Brinks Matt gold bullion robbers, and one with a nasty temper. Forget the Krays. They were just pathetic minnows. It is nigh on certain that Cocky is the richest criminal in British history.
I remember vividly the first time I ever heard the name Curtis Warren. Veronica Guerin, the brilliant Irish journalist had been shot dead in Dublin in the summer of 1996, for going after the heroin barons who were making themselves rich while a generation of Irish kids were getting suckered on smack. Her mission had been simple: follow the money. The Observer sent me off to find out who, and why, and how. And what were the names of the British Mr Bigs?
In search of the British Mr Bigs, I had gone to a pub to meet a Customs investigator, the late Bill Newall, who at that time was working for the heroin target team. Bill had `called the knock' on many heavy-duty nasties, including a number of Turkish heroin traffickers ...I asked Bill about the Mr Bigs, the ones that always get away. He took a pull on his pint and said: `Then you've got to go to Liverpool. And ask them about Curtis Warren.'
`He's nothing much to look at. The usual big Scouse tough guy in a shellsuit. But this one is good. He doesn't drink, smoke or use drugs. He's got a photographic memory for telephone numbers, numbers of bank accounts and the like. We've been looking for where he keeps his stuff. On a computer? In notes? No way. He carries it all inside his head." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
As far as the Cocky Watchman himself goes, I found him to be an interesting figure who is clearly very clever and charismatic. It is clear that as a youth he had a strong desire to become successful and rise above the poverty and desperation that surrounded him in Toxteth, it just a shame that he did not use his ability and brains for something more productive. Towards the end of the book we start to see how the pressure of being one of the world’s biggest drug dealers makes him paranoid resulting in him living in a safety ‘bubble’ that eventually leads to his downfall. It is such as shame that he refuses to write his own story, hearing it from his own mouth would be interesting.
I must admit, even though I do not want to, that I did feel sorry for Curtis towards the end of the book. His treatment at the hands of the Dutch judicial system has been disgusting. There seems to have been underhanded dealings between the international police squads that resulted from the desperate need to capture him that has cast a shadow over the whole case.
At the end of the day, the book is written in a journalistic style that can be boring at times and does not really provide anything more then what could be found in reading 90’s newspapers and Wikipedia.
I give it 3 stars out of 5.
It's clear that Curtis Warren was a nasty individual, and clearly someone I wouldn't wish to cross. It's equally clear, however, that the gentlemen who wrote this book did very little to research their subject fully. They mention at the beginning of the book that several of the key players in the story are still subject to legal proceedings, and cannot, therefore, be named in this book. I'd suggest that it might have been better to wait until a full account could have been made, because all I got out of this book was a collection of facts that I'd have got if I'd been reading the tabloids in 1995 and 1996.
Their writing style is firmly in the tabloid journalist mould, too. Consequently, the book is very easy to read, but I found myself wincing sometimes at the amateurish way that some situations were described in the book.
As a factual account of Warren's dealings, this is quite poorly written. As an explanation of how Toxteth came to be a breeding ground for all sorts of criminals, it's more interesting, but that's only about the first 40 pages of the book.
If you have an interest in Warren, or drug barons in general, this book is a relatively interesting read. But if you've read any other books on the subject, you probably won't get anything new out of this one.
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