Top positive review
The UK's Donnie Brasco; A must read
2 October 2016
Author Stephen Bentley taught me something new from the beginning:
I thought Llandewi Breffi was a fictitious Welsh village made famous by the comedy series Little Britain as the home of the The Only Gay in the Village.
Imagine my surprise when I discover it was at the centre of the biggest police drugs sting of the 70s – named Operation Julie after one of the police officers on the squad.
It’s a fast-paced true story of a young officer (Bentley) just cutting his teeth as a detective when he is asked to sacrifice everything to assume a new name, personality and friends in order to infiltrate a drug network which had spread its tentacles worldwide.
He and a fellow officer assume hippy appearances, living and sleeping out of a shabby van with a cover story that they are searching for a lost relative.
Pretty soon they are popular members of the community, with Stephen getting particularly close to a colourful character called Smiles, one of the leading dealers and distributors of LSD in the UK. And though there is humour in places, the underlying current of fear and danger is never far away
The final impression is of a man who thrived on the adrenaline of the occasion, but found it difficult to adjust once it was over and has carried the scars of those early days for the rest of his life. In the army they call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but only in the present day is it recognised as an illness.
Now living happily in the Philippines, Bentley’s chief regret is the fact the brilliant work done by the original investigation was wasted as the Julie force was quickly disbanded and the leading lights allowed to drift away, taking their insider knowledge and valuable experiences with them.
The author feels a national drug squad should have resulted and might have solved many of the social problems we see around us today. It is hard to disagree.
Overall, it is a story of humanity. Stephen doesn’t judge but tells it like it is, and still has a deep affection for Smiles, one of those jailed as the result of his actions. I highly recommend this book to those who wish to read about the UK’s equivalent to Donny Brasco.