I went from training for WW3 to becoming drugs kingpin – pill changed my life

A British Army veteran felt no fear when he did his first drug deal – because he had been trained to fight World War 3.

Rich Jones was stationed in Germany during the dying days of the Cold War.

“You're literally on standby – you're waiting for this attack, this World War 3 which never happened,” he explained.

So that meant that a few years later, when he found himself selling ecstasy in a nightclub, he wasn’t remotely nervous about being caught.

“People would say well that's a risk,” he told podcaster Dodge Woodall. “For me it wasn't because I'm used to doing much more risky things in the Army…”

“I was deployed to Germany in 1988 after doing my basic training,” he said. Trained as a tank gunner, Rich would have been on the front line if the feared Soviet attack ever came.

It was an “imminent threat,” he said, adding: “Like now; look at this thing in Ukraine people are s***ting themselves about the nukes

“We had that back in 80s all the time. We got used to it. That’s why I'm not remotely bothered by now if that happens it happens.”

Back in the 80s, Rich and his army comrades lived a party lifestyle, drinking heavily whenever they weren’t actually called upon to go on manoeuvres.

He was later shipped out to Northern Ireland, and was then stationed as part of a peacekeeping force in Cyprus, before leaving the Army.

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He had been considering the police as a second career, but on the advice of his dad – himself a copper – Rich decided to train as a bodyguard instead.

Rich continued: “When I went to Army in 1988, the rave scene was really just bubbling under at that stage and I didn't really have anything to do with it.

“I was also oblivious to is the fact that a lot of people that I knew were starting to engage in ecstasy and amphetamines.

“But when I came out in 95 I was given a pill – and that changed my life completely.”

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The paranoia that had been drilled into Rich on the streets of Northern Ireland disappeared in an instant.

“Everything changed; the music got louder, the bass was booming, and I thought I could hear people's voices across the club," he said.

“Standard stuff, but what happened as well was the hyper-vigilance which I which I have always suffered with was gone … no more. I didn’t give a f***."

From there on, Rich was doing ecstasy every night. And it just a small step to getting some in for his mates every weekend as well.

He continued: “People would say well that's a risk – for me it wasn’t, because I'm used to doing much more risky things in the Army so my way I would evaluate risk was in a different scale…so grabbing a small handful of pills of four or five wasn't really a problem.

“And that’s where it started."

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Soon, he was approached by a stranger in a pub who asked if he had any spares, saying: “I remember lifting a little bag … looking at it through the lights … I could have been caught or anything. I didn't really care about that the time."

That first pill, that he sold for £10, was the start of a whole new chapter in his life.

He continued: “Banging out the odd little here and there I really seemed to tick a few boxes for me … it felt right. The Army had gone but this rave scene that it really filled it quite nicely… almost a carbon copy.”

He began supplying more and more. Soon he was buying pills by the thousand. But then he moved onto selling cocaine.

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But Rich was increasingly on police radar and it was only a matter of time before he was arrested.

Ironically he had just decided to get out of the drugs business when he was raided.

Rich says that he was in a way “relieved” to be arrested and for the stress of being a drug dealer to be behind him.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine. Rich says that he could cope with prison life by “defaulting” to his Army mindset.

Now free, and the author of a series of books about his experiences, Rich works as a mental health practitioner.

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