Llanddewi Brefi, Smiles and Operation Julie all have something in connection with me.

Llanddewi Brefi was the small community I infiltrated back in 1976 as an undercover detective on Operation Julie. The enormity of that task has only been driven home to me by a brilliant article by Joe Zadeh in Vice.com published on October 3, 2017.

llanddewi brefi smiles operation julie

Smiles – Courtesy of https://twitter.com/CBethell_photo

Former Undercover Cop Stephen Bentley

The photographs above show Smiles and me as we are now. Below is how we looked at the time of the Operation Julie busts –

Smiles 8-years for LSD distribution

Stephen Bentley at the time of the busts

Stephen Bentley Undercover

I was twenty-nine at the time and foolish enough to undertake the task. You must read the article in full to grasp what I mean. Joe Zadeh uses his writing style to beautifully depict what the village is like both now and back in 1976 for it’s clear it has stood still in time,

It was remote, a village of five hundred people and surrounded by fields, mountains, sheep, cattle and of course drug dealers.

One of those dealers was Smiles. He is a central character in my book ‘Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story.‘ Smiles still makes the claim he knew all along I was a copper.

I deal with that in the second edition of my book. I will add this about his spurious claim as this is what I wrote to Joe Zadeh after reading his excellent article:

“Two things above all else (and there are a few) give the lie to what he says:
Why did he approach me towards the end of my days in Llanddewi to score kilo weights of cocaine when he thought I was connected to the Canadian gangster who was importing charlie from Bolivia via Miami?
Why did he say nothing on the telephone to anyone about what he claims now? There was an intercept on his phone for about 6 months (in the public domain) and not once did he say a word about us. You may think he was being cautious. No, as he was heard arranging a deal for acid involving 1000’s of LSD tabs.
It’s a face-saver and he has come to believe it.
The days of me commenting to that effect on articles such as yours are over. I know the truth!”

I did of course congratulate the author on the article.

To give you a taste of the piece, I reproduce part of the article here:

“The undercover police operation and subsequent bust (which uncovered 6.5 million tabs of LSD and involved two police officers masquerading as wandering hippies for nearly two years) became known as Operation Julie. It is still the biggest ever counter-LSD operation in the UK, and has been re-told through countless articles, books and a few truly terrible TV adaptations, in which LSD is portrayed as some sort of demonic auto-suicide potion. The contrast of metropolitan gangsterism with rural comfort has always made it an irresistible tale – it was a bit like a really lovely Welsh Breaking Bad.

Now, it was back in the news because one of the (since retired) detectives involved had made new claims that a sizeable stash of the LSD is still buried somewhere in the area, and would still be active. It was enough to have the local Dyfed-Powys police force doing overnight patrols, for fear that would-be smugglers, dealers or just naive journalists might embark on an easter egg hunt to unearth some vintage microdots.”

That retired detective was me and the new claims were made in the second edition.

This extract gives a feel for the area:

“What isn’t North Wales or South Wales or East Wales or West Wales is known as mid-Wales. And in the middle of mid-Wales – straddling the counties of Powys, Ceredigion, and Carmarthenshire – is a place described in Welsh folklore as the Green Desert, thanks to its lack of proper roads or civilisation and its abundance of lush blue-green mountains, sloping valleys and ancient streams. I read on an astronomy website that if you look up here on a clear night, the naked eye will see the entire Milky Way stretching out across the black sky. And for some reason, this specific part of Wales has often cast a strange spell on people, luring them for various inexplicable reasons.

“You are as far away / As you will ever be from the world’s madness,” wrote Welsh nationalist poet Harri Webb – who was responsible for the popularisation of “green desert” – of this area in 1969. The LSD dealers must have agreed. As did Salman Rushdie, who deemed the area a suitable place to go into hiding in the 80s after the Ayatollah of Iran put a fatwa on his head. Numerous hippy free festival organisers also felt drawn in the 70s, bringing their thousand-strong parties primarily for the remoteness, but also for the liberty cap magic mushrooms that still grow rampantly throughout the valley.”

One of the things I chuckled at was this part of Joe’s story describing a meeting between him and Smiles:

“He carries on talking, but my head starts spinning. I focus intently on not losing my shit, which makes me lose my shit because I’m not listening to what he’s saying any more. I look up. He’s stopped talking. I look down at the questions I’ve written in a notepad. They don’t make sense. I look at the spliff. It looks like a gun in a baby’s hand. I slowly place it back on the table, hoping he doesn’t notice. He does. “That you, is it?” says Smiles, chuckling. From my limited knowledge of weed, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that is some strong shit. His wife walks out with a plate of biscuits. A mixture of shortbread and chocolate digestives. I eat eight.”

Funny! So reminds me of so many encounters with Smiles, all described in my book of course!

PS Smiles, if you read this, please tell all why you failed to say what you say now when we met in the cell at Swindon Police Station? Surely, if your claim is true that you knew from day one I was a copper, then you would have said so in the cell when we met after your arrest. You did not. In fact you were initially surprised to see me there until the penny dropped. We then hugged and you said, “No hard feelings, man. It’s all part of the game.”

There are two reasons why you say what you now say. One, to save face. Two, to annoy me. I am no longer annoyed but it is tiresome.

It’s history. Let others be the judge of where the truth lies after they study what you now say, what I say here and in the second edition of my book.

Peace be with you! 


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Photographs of Smiles courtesy of https://twitter.com/CBethell_photo

 

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