Neil Woods (@wudzee0) spent 14 years as an undercover drugs operative, gaining the trust of some of the most violent, unpredictable criminals in Britain. Now he’s an active member of the international drug policy reform movement, and co-author of Good Cop, Bad War and Drug Wars.
What We Discuss with Neil Woods:
- The complex logistics of undercover law enforcement operations.
- The skills of persuasion and manipulation an undercover operative relies on to get the job done and stay alive in the process.
- Neil’s close calls and epic failures while working undercover that he somehow managed to survive.
- How the pressure placed on police departments to get results makes corruption almost inevitable — even among officers committed to doing the right thing.
- Why, after spending 14 years trying to win the war on drugs, Neil now advocates an evidence-based drug policy and related criminal justice reforms.
- And much more…
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There are only a limited number of people willing to risk prison for the potential rewards of breaking into houses and stealing their contents. So when a burglar slips up and finally gets arrested, it stands to reason that break-ins will go down in that neighborhood — one has been subtracted from the finite pool of would-be thieves. But drug crime is a different animal altogether. There’s no shortage of people willing to deal drugs because the rewards are staggeringly astronomical, and the demand never goes down. So when a drug dealer is taken off the streets, it creates a power vacuum in the market that erupts in violence and related crimes as aspiring criminals compete to take their place. And as Neil Woods discovered while working 14 years as an undercover drug-busting operative, the current methods of policing drug crime only demonize the people who need help the most and empower the very worst elements in society.
On this episode, Neil — co-author of Good Cop, Bad War and Drug Wars — joins us to share the complex logistics of undercover law enforcement, the skills (and no short amount of luck) he employed to build rapport among the most violent drug gangs in the UK and stay alive in the process, the close calls he managed to survive when these skills fell short, why the pressure placed on police departments for results in an unwinnable war on drugs makes corruption almost inevitable, and why Neil now advocates an evidence-based drug policy and related criminal justice reforms. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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Miss our conversation with the former DEA agents who ended the reign of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in the ’90s? Catch up with episode 453: Javier Peña and Steve Murphy | Taking Down Pablo Escobar here!
Thanks, Neil Woods!
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Resources from This Episode:
- Drug Wars: The Real Inside Story of Britain’s Drug War by Neil Woods and JS Rafaeli | Amazon
- Good Cop, Bad War: My Life Undercover inside Britain’s Biggest Drug Gang by Neil Woods and JS Rafaeli | Amazon
- Neil Woods | Website
- Neil Woods | Twitter
- JS Rafaeli | Twitter
- Law Enforcement Action Partnership | LEAP Europe
- Putting Patients First Through Research-Based Advocacy | OEV Partners
- The World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game | Dungeons & Dragons
- Like Chalk and Cheese | Cambridge Dictionary
- Freeway Rick Ross | Life in the Crack Lane | Jordan Harbinger
- The Invention of Lying | Prime Video
- Gangs in the United Kingdom | Wikipedia
- Rise of Deadly Burger Bar Boys and Johnson Crew — And Gangs Who Came After | Birmingham Live
- Brutal Ganglord Who Fell Victim to His Own Drugs | The Guardian
- United Kingdom: New Law Provides Framework for Covert Human Intelligence | Library of Congress
- The Wire | Prime Video
- Tom Wainwright | How to Run a Drug Cartel | Jordan Harbinger
- Luis Navia | 25 Years Inside the Narco Cartels | Jordan Harbinger
- Danny Gold | Breaking News from the Underworld | Jordan Harbinger
- Jail for Police Who Leaked Inquiry Details for Suits and Favours | The Guardian
- Stone Island | Wikipedia
- Ken Croke | Undercover in an Outlaw Biker Gang Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Ken Croke | Undercover in an Outlaw Biker Gang Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- Heroin Addiction Care and Control: The British System 1916 to 1984 | JRSM
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