TERRIFIED Woody stood in the stinking toilet of a snooker club, trembling as a drug dealer fired questions at him and five hoodies blocked his exit.
But “Woody” was no ordinary junkie – he was undercover officer Neil Woods, who spent 14 years infiltrating some of the most dangerous drugs gangs in the UK
The snooker bar was the base for the Burger Bar Boys in Northampton, a violent group who used rape as ‘punishment’ for people who couldn’t pay their drug debts.
“They were raping people for reputation building and as punishment for drug debts, not paying up on time,” Neil says.
“One morning they said, ‘If you get in the same car as you got in yesterday you’re going to be part of the crime scene because there was a rape in that car last night.’
“The victim was one of the sex workers I knew. It was horrifying.”
The brutal interrogation in the snooker hall, where he was punched in the ribs and repeatedly head-butted, was Neil’s initiation into the Burger Bar Boys.
“It felt like I wasn’t going to walk out of that place alive, it was going on so long,” he recalls. “And there was always that threat of violence from then on.
Multiple times I feared for my life.
“I had a samurai sword to my throat, I had a knife pressed into my groin, I had somebody trying to run me over in a car, I’ve been threatened and felt I was about to be killed quite a few times.”
The Burger Bar Boys were just one of the groups Neil went undercover with, perfecting the “rattle” of an addict – shortness of breath, darting eyes and shaking hands – to dupe dealers around the country into believing he was a hopeless junkie.
It means he has an unparalleled insight into the drugs problem in the UK, and he warns cocaine is now endemic in all walks of life.
Cocaine has got really cheap and it’s so strong compared to what it used to be that people are having a cheap night out on it, and drinking less, than when it was an expensive commodity,” he says.
“The idea that it is driven by middle-class professionals – rich city men in suits – is a throwback to the 1980s and is simply not true, it’s absolutely everywhere. It’s every demographic, young to middle-aged.”
On top of that, Neil insists that knife crime and street violence will continue to escalate in Britain as long as drugs are on the street as it’s “built into the business model”.
The former cop says UK gangs’ grip on the drugs trade has caused a rise in crime, with kids being murdered because adult gang members use bribes and threats to push them towards violence.