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Operation Playboy by Kathryn Bonella

This is the adrenaline-pumping story of the world’s most audacious drug runners and the police hunt, ‘Operation Playboy’, to track them down.

These drug-running playboys travel the globe: they ski in Europe, surf in Bali, hook up with celebrity models and live in five-star hotels. They are 24/7 party boys with brass balls, steely nerves and reckless ambitions. They pay for their high-risk, hedonistic lifestyle by trafficking cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana on international flights and through the world’s biggest airports.

But to ride the wave you have to roll the dice. And in this game, a bust means prison – or even a firing squad. A Brazilian cop is watching closely, determined to close the net. With a small team, he battles corrupt colleagues and bent judges to learn the secrets of the playboys and bring about their downfall.

Celebrated true-crime writer and journalist Kathryn Bonella has travelled the world to collect first-person testimony from an international network of mules and their bosses, as well as from the elite cops who are hot on their trail.

Duffy’s thoughts on Operation Playboy

Having recently read Cocaine and Surfing and The Pastor and The Painter, I was keen to get into Operation Playboy and gain another perspective to the world of drug smuggling. The book reads like the movie Blow and at times found myself shaking my head, realising that this wasn’t a movie, this is real life. Real life and real men with ego, narcissism, following underworld ‘moral code’, wearing designer clothes, double-crossing each other and trying to avoid death.

Operation Playboy follows Jorge (names changed of course for the book) and his band of merry, suave, entitled and intelligent young men. The book details the intricacies of their drug smuggling network and the ‘horses’ who are used by them. Horses is a fancier word for drug mule and there seems to be no end of willing volunteers ready to ferry large amounts of cash, coke and weed to Bali and Amsterdam for a few thousand dollars and a surfing holiday.  For a time, they are all riding (and getting) high, but as with every drug tale, it all ends up becoming a big mess as Brazilian Cop Chief Fernando Caieron closes in on these beautiful and dangerous Brazilian men.

Highest of highs to lowest of lows

I found myself particularly drawn to Jorge, Dimitrius and Rodrigo. Yes, they are/were big-time drug lords, but Bonella, through quotes, interviews and detailed descriptions, gets their personalities across. I began to see them as flawed humans, taking an opportunity when it arose, not evil drug dealers.  However, as I ploughed through the pages, the shine wore off. When I read about one of the horses caught, in jail, or even executed it left me feeling incredibly sad. Particularly Rodrigo Gularte who was executed by firing squad along with Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on the prison island of Nusakambangan at 3:35am AEST. His fate was so unnecessary and entirely avoidable if greed wasn’t centre stage. To read what happened in his own words affected me deeply.

Were the good guys as exciting?

Caieron, the Brazilian police chief integral to ‘Operation Playboy’ and hot on the tails of the group was another story. For a determined cop chasing down Brazil’s most wanted drug syndicate, he came across with very little personality and incredibly boring. I’m not sure if this was intentional by Bonella in order to keep the criminals front and centre in the book, or that Caieron was just a boring person! Either way, I found myself skipping over paragraphs about him, completely disinterested in his narrative.

If you are interested in the life of George Jung and want to get a peek into what it’s really like day to day for an international drug dealer, then you’ll enjoy Operation Playboy.  It’s a cautionary tale that ultimately delivers the message that crime doesn’t pay, you do with your life.

I’ll definitely be seeking out Bonella’s other books.

Published by Pan MacMillan books and available in all good bookstores. Click on the image below to buy online!

Click the image to buy operation playboy online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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