Farewell Mr Nice: Former International Drug Smuggler Howard Marks Dies Aged 70

Howard Marks
Wales writer and actor Howard Marks poses in Paris on the sidelines of the French book fair on March 16, 2011. He died on April 10, 2016. Francois Guillot/Getty

Former international drug smuggler turned author Howard Marks has died at the age of 70.

Marks, from Bridgend County Borough, in Wales, announced last year he had been diagnosed with inoperable bowel cancer.

He first came to the public's attention when he published a bestselling memoir in 1996, Mr Nice , the year after his release from a US prison, where he had been incarcerated for drug offences.

The memoir was later made into a film starring Rhys Ifans.

Marks was a "true modern-day folk hero", who had done "so many funny, shocking, illegal things", his friend and former colleague James Brown—the creator and founder of Loaded magazine—told U.K. newspaper the Guardian on Sunday.

Is Tom Johnston still doing cartoons for The Sun? got a good 1. Howard Marks getting into Heaven, smoking spliff, flying without angel wings

— Richard K Herring (@Herring1967) April 10, 2016

The father of four stood for election to Parliament in 1997 on a single-issue ticket of reforming cannabis laws.

Marks also regularly toured a one-man show in which he recounted stories about drug smuggling and his time in prison.

Revealing his illness in January 2015, Marks said he had "no regrets" about his life.

RIP Howard Marks. The finest drug dealer I've ever met #imeanonlydrugdealer

— Ian Stone (@iandstone) April 10, 2016

His drug smuggling began in the 1970s after he graduated from Oxford University with a degree in physics.

In 1988, he was arrested in Spain as part of a US Drug Enforcement Agency-led operation and extradited to Florida. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and released on parole in 1995 for good behaviour.

RiP to one of my heroes, Howard Marks.
A rare human and a man who touched the lives of many. #HowardMarks #RIP pic.twitter.com/nzaR3rXGnz

— Smokingroove (@Smokingroove) April 10, 2016

As well as the film version of Mr Nice, Marks had cameo roles in the movie Human Traffic and appeared on TV including on the BBC quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

He also collaborated on songs with the Super Furry Animals and made appearances at the Glastonbury festival.

A sequel to Mr Nice, Senor Nice, came out in 2006, and five years later Marks published a crime novel, Sympathy for the Devil.