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Jason Ryan Book Reading & Signing

There will be a reading and book signing with Jason Ryan, a writer in the College’s  Division of marketing and Communications on Thursday, September 15, 2011 6:00 pm at Addlestone Library Room 227.

Here’s what the reviewers are saying about  JackPot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting that Launched the War on Drugs

From  Publishers Weekly

Ryan writes a thoroughly researched account of Operation Jackpot, the drug investigation that ended the reign of South Carolina’s “gentlemen smugglers,” marijuana kingpins who kick-started Reagan’s war on drugs. As a result of Operation Jackpot, more than 100 men were charged with smuggling, racketeering, tax evasion, and conspiracy, relatively tame charges, as Ryan stresses, compared with the violence surrounding contemporary drug trafficking. Ryan draws on extensive interviews, grand jury and trial transcripts, personal correspondence, news articles, and police reports. Still, rather than a comprehensive survey of marijuana and hashish smuggling in the 1970s and ’80s, his book profiles personalities, focusing on “a few talented smugglers” and their wild exploits, such as a 1976 incident in the Florida Keys when the approach of police caused smugglers to scatter, sending a 65-foot sport fishing yacht with 15,000 pounds of marijuana on autopilot toward Cuba “never to be seen by the smugglers again.” The last member of the crew to go to prison, having evaded the law for 25 years, pleaded guilty in 2008. Ryan recreates the era with a vivid, sun-drenched intensity. (Apr. 20)

From Kirkus Reviews

High times on the high seas: Investigative reporter Ryan recounts the glory days of dope smuggling and their terrible denouement. Back in the 1970s, bringing brain candy from offshore or Mexico wasn’t the deadly game it is today—at least not so deadly, though surely just as lucrative. The protagonists are, in the main, decent and hardworking guys who just happen to be engaged in something very illegal—a trade that, as Ryan notes, is an ancient one along the South Carolina coast, where contraband smuggling is a big intergenerational business, whether of cigarettes, booze or pot. The principals of the story long enjoyed a place at the top of the smuggling pyramid, landing, in one year, more than 30,000 pounds of marijuana in three moves alone; writes Ryan, “even with the lax drug patrols in South Carolina, that so many ventures could be accomplished successfully is a testament to the sophistication the gentlemen smugglers developed.” Eventually, though, the smuggling ring drew the attention of the feds, who brought it down in a showcase operation that heralded the Reagan administration’s war on drugs. Classically, it also set friend against friend, cousin against cousin. Particularly bothersome to those on the wrong side of the law, Ryan writes, was the fact that so many “cooperating witnesses spilled their guts when they had relatively little exposure to serious charges.” Ultimately, the league of gentlemen smugglers was torn apart, its members imprisoned. But, Ryan notes in closing, smuggling persists, and now it’s “less romantic and much more deadly.”