A self-confessed "quiet, shy lad" turned raver became known as the 'Bank of England' after he amassed a multi-million pound drug empire and survived a mafia hit.
Shaun Attwood, from Widnes, Cheshire, is the son of an insurance salesman who developed a fascination for figures as a kid and by 14 knew he wanted to be a millionaire.
He got a degree in economics at Liverpool University and at 22, he quit Britain for a new life in America, and within six years he was a millionaire stockbroker. But then Shaun turned to crime, importing huge batches of ecstasy pills.
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He lived among the super-rich and Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney was one of his neighbours. American pals dubbed him The Bank of England because he was so loaded.
Shaun’s empire – described in court as The Attwood Enterprise – finally crumbled when a 20-strong SWAT team raided his home in 2002.
He spent 26 months on remand and avoided a 200-year jail sentence in a plea baragin. He admitted drug-dealing and money laundering and ended up serving just six years.
“Only when I sobered up in the jail, I looked back and thought ‘what on earth have you done, how on earth are you still alive?’” he told the Sun recently.
Explaining his start in drugs during the UK rave scene of the 90s, he said his "anxiety melted away" when he was high.
“People saw me as this wild and crazy party person," he said.
As demand for his drugs grew, he bought 1,000 E tabs from a supplier and he and friend Peter ‘Wildman’ Mahoney set up a network of dealers and smugglers.
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“I applied my business studies knowledge to structure it like a corporation," Shaun told the Sun.
His success soon caught the attention of rival drug lord Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano. Sammy, who later confessed to 19 murders as part of a plea deal, allegedly put out a hit on the young Brit.
Shaun said a killer “was dispatched one night to kidnap me from a nightclub, but we just left, we just dodged them in time, the guys I was with felt the atmosphere change”.
Shaun was getting high on his own supply, and started taking ever more extreme drugs until it all caught up with him.
His girlfriend convinced him to stop dealing by May 2002, but he was still heavily using It was around this time the law caught up with him and the DEA put his door through.
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“I was on the computer getting back into stock trading and there was a ‘bam, bam, bam’ on the door," he explained.
He told how seconds later the door "flew off the hinges" and he was arrested.
Shaun was locked up in Maricopa County Jail in Arizona and was "horrified" by the people he shared the prison with.
“I am getting used to heads being bashed against toilets and bodies getting thrown around, it is a daily thing,” he said.
Now, however, Shaun uses his experiences for good and after returning from the US in 2007, he went around schools detailing his experiences. He has also written two books.
"I basically went in, scared the living daylights out of the kids talking about consequences of what can happen if you get involved in drugs," he said.
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