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Undercover: Operation Julie - The Inside Story

by Stephen Bentley

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1841,032,341 (5)None
Forget Breaking Bad, this is the extraordinary story of the 1970s Welsh LSD ring that supplied the world, told by a cop in deepest cover on the case."Life undercover was one great adrenaline rush fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol, hash, weed and some cocaine. I was off the leash."In the mid-1970s, at the age of 29, Stephen Bentley, a fresh-faced detective, turned himself into Steve Jackson, a dope-smoking, hard-drinking hippie. His time spent undercover with a gang making and distributing LSD helped bring down two criminal networks - but the operation also led to deep personal aftershocks felt long after the case closed.As we get up-close-and-personal with the people who were the operators of the drug supply chain that fuelled 70s counter-culture, the story becomes laden with heavy drug-taking, blurred lines between cop, criminal and friend, and creeping doubts about who Steve really is. Taking us into the unlikely setting of the rural Welsh valleys and infiltrating the gang that was responsible for about 90% of the LSD production in the UK, Steve Bentley's insider account shows what it really takes to go undercover - to befriend, to betray and to bury your sense of self.Now in development as an 8-part TV series.… (more)
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I enjoyed reading this memoir. Most (auto)biographies should be taken with a grain of salt. Memories can fade. False memories easily slide into the mind. The author knew this; even admitted it. He lived it. But he also knew that to tell a factually accurate story he would need to do his research. Cited sources allowed me, and I imagine other readers, to feel more confident the story I was reading was true, as opposed to “based on a true story”.

The first half of the book discusses how the “Julie” team was formed through to the end of the investigation. During much of this I felt I was reading two different stories meshed together. I would follow Steve through all the parties. I was thrilled to rub elbows with musical greats right alongside him. Late nights spent drinking at pubs, socializing with locals, getting high. I was drawn into the excitement. And then I’m brought back to reality. Daily reports to file, meetings to attend, people to track. I was constantly forgetting there was a purpose to all this madness. I’m fairly certain Steve never forgot, but I can only imagine it became more difficult as time passed. As mentioned in the book, the cover story and subsequent lies became easier to tell the longer he lived it. “Fake it til you make it” certainly holds true here, but probably not in the intended spirit.

After the massive take-down and subsequent journalism excitement the team was disbanded. What happens next should never have happened. What do you think happens to a person’s psyche after months of living a double life such as Steve did? Unfortunately, depression and mental illness were not thought of or even talked about. Steve expresses how low he was. And then he got even lower. It doesn’t appear he had much of a support system. As I was reading his thoughts, I realized this book is Steve’s therapy. I say “is” because, in some way or other, he’s still writing it. I may be off, but I don’t think so.

I applaud this man for his bravery in making public what most would feel should be kept private. This book opens up many discussions, such as mental health, politics, special training, and how the world can unite on the issue of drugs. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

I received this eBook free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
( )
  Bibliodiction | Apr 28, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Member Giveaways.
Thanx so much!!! Enjoyed reading it!!! :) ( )
1 vote | jennifferhope | Oct 21, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Member Giveaways.
I received a free ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

An excellent first hand account of an early undercover drug operation in Great Britain. Being the first a lot of the training was done on the job and in some cases the operatives had to train their bosses as to what they could and could not do. Bentley, using records from the time relives the times that he and his partner were undercover trying to wrap up a LSD ring. It is not only the story of their work but also the mental stress and how being undercover affected their lives during and afterward.

An interesting look at undercover work and the results of such work. More then just a crime story, it is a personal story. ( )
1 vote qstewart | Oct 9, 2016 |
Masterfully told by undercover officer Stephen Bentley, this isn't a run of the mill sensationalist true crime book. Dive underneath the visible parts of the water and into the murky depths as you are pulled along through not just the operation but the aftermath, both personal and public. A must read for true crime lovers and historians alike. I cannot recommend this book enough. It was a very enjoyable read.

-Received free copy in exchange for fair and honest review ( )
1 vote LilyRoseShadowlyn | Sep 14, 2016 |
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Forget Breaking Bad, this is the extraordinary story of the 1970s Welsh LSD ring that supplied the world, told by a cop in deepest cover on the case."Life undercover was one great adrenaline rush fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol, hash, weed and some cocaine. I was off the leash."In the mid-1970s, at the age of 29, Stephen Bentley, a fresh-faced detective, turned himself into Steve Jackson, a dope-smoking, hard-drinking hippie. His time spent undercover with a gang making and distributing LSD helped bring down two criminal networks - but the operation also led to deep personal aftershocks felt long after the case closed.As we get up-close-and-personal with the people who were the operators of the drug supply chain that fuelled 70s counter-culture, the story becomes laden with heavy drug-taking, blurred lines between cop, criminal and friend, and creeping doubts about who Steve really is. Taking us into the unlikely setting of the rural Welsh valleys and infiltrating the gang that was responsible for about 90% of the LSD production in the UK, Steve Bentley's insider account shows what it really takes to go undercover - to befriend, to betray and to bury your sense of self.Now in development as an 8-part TV series.

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