'High' looks at the seamy side of smuggling

HIGH: Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler by Brian O’Dea; 978-1-59051-310-1; 368 Pages; $14/95; Publication Date: May 2009; Softcover; Memoir; Published by Other Press, New York

HIGH: Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler by Brian O’Dea; 978-1-59051-310-1; 368 Pages; $14/95; Publication Date: May 2009; Softcover; Memoir; Published by Other Press, New York

Brian O'Dea was an extraordinary drug smuggler, and he tells his story in a straight-forward style which does not in any way apologize for what he did - it's just about what happened. He talks of having joined AA and slipping back into the using mode when it was convenient.

O'Dea discusses how he had gone straight and was living a calm, peaceful - and maybe somewhat productive - lifestyle when he was finally arrested in Santa Barbara Calif., for his past misdeeds. The story shifts to prison, where he then describes his life while constantly reminding us about being "counted" very often by his caretakers. Prison life is described as a matter-of-fact adventure where he gets by because of his connections with underworld characters who had been an integral part of his criminal life.

This story is unusual and noteworthy because of his large network of drug smuggling and the amount of money which was being generated by this enterprise. Brian had 120 people in a coast-to-coast operation where semi-trucks traversed the United States with cedar shingles used as a cover for his marijuana and cocaine smuggling. $100 million worth of product was brought into the country by ships which were either owned or chartered by Brian and his cohorts. Sadly, there is much rejoicing about how they outwitted the DEA and other governmental agencies with no regret about the exploitation and misery of others while achieving their own financial gain.

Brian describes his own addiction and use of many different drugs with a "poor me" excuse because he had been abused by a priest. This may be true, but his hell-bent-to-destroy-himself attitude throughout the book does not absolve him from his own actions. He was reckless and carefree throughout his years of trafficking.

On one of his missions, he flew as co-pilot in a DC-6 even though he had never sat in the cockpit of a plane. Ultimately, his life was spared when the plane crashed and tons of marijuana were lost.

Once again, he picked himself up and continued on with his crime-filled life.

Ruination of life by getting HIGH is something that you will need to decide for yourself. Those who recommend this book would probably do so only for a look into the seamy side of smuggling.

Prison terms which are meted out for breaking our laws appear to be excessive in some instances when they are applied to drug cases.

However, when dealing with excessive amounts of money, tons of marijuana, and the horrendous addiction of so many people, some sentences are not enough.