MIchael Showers, ‘Juicebomb’ John Burton and Stephen Mee were major players in the underworld
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“The poverty and lack of opportunity they faced as children were common with all of them and drove them to make the decisions they did.”
Liverpool Narcos series director Anthony Philipson. is describing what led three Merseyside men to become some of the most notorious drug smugglers and dealers in the country.
Next week, the spotlight will be on Liverpool as a new documentary deep dives into the city’s drug trade throughout the 1980s and 90s.
The Sky Documentaries programme Liverpool Narcos brings together the likes of Michael Showers, ‘Juicebomb’ John Burton and Curtis Warren’s main accomplice Stephen Mee.
Told as a three-part series, Liverpool Narcos shows not only how the drugs trade soon became a multi-billion pound business but also the devastating toll it had on many peoples lives.
Anthony says he believes it’s important to now tell the story of the role Liverpool criminals played in the trade in heroin, ecstasy and cocaine.
Speaking to the ECHO, he said: “Drug supply in 2021 has its roots in the 1980s, so the series is a genesis story.
“The methodology of trafficking and dealing drugs – including county lines and the grooming of teenagers for drug running, and the impact on people lives – including addiction and violence, were born out of the drugs trade of the 1980s.
“The series explores the conditions in 1980s Liverpool that helped trigger the growth of the illicit drugs trade which are relevant today.”
Liverpool Narcos shows a variety of perspectives, from addicts such as Lee Thomas to drug counsellors like Alan Matthews.
We also meet local people who have an almost sentimental recollection of using ecstasy while partying at the Quadrant Park club in Bootle.
Even Burton himself says: “Heroin was bringing misery to Liverpool. Ecstasy was bringing happiness. You were actually seeing people and culture change.”
However, Anthony said he was keen to highlight that Liverpool Narcos isn’t promoting drug use or dealing, but rather highlighting the dangerous realities of the trade.
He said: “The film does not promote drug use but instead, the utmost care has been taken to ensure that Liverpool Narcos portrays the realities of those at the forefront of the drug trade in Liverpool during this time and the consequences of their involvement.
“Throughout the series, we build an understanding of what motivates people into crime of this nature to begin with, and Liverpool Narcos explores the roots of a trade that is one of the major social issues in Britain today.
“All of these men [Showers, Burton, Mee] served significant custodial sentences as a result of their actions and unlike what we see in movies, their stories demonstrate that if you deal drugs on a major scale, justice will prevail and you will get caught.
“Many of those who feature in the series deeply regret their involvement in the trade and the impact it had on their own lives as well as their families and on users.
“Ultimately, we see the direct link between drug use and the crime, violence and misery it funds and precipitates.”
Viewers also get an inside look at the personalities of Showers, Burton and Mee – something which Anthony said throws up some surprises.
He said: “What struck me the most was how different they are in personality and outlook, yet how similar their back stories are.
“The poverty and lack of opportunity they faced as children were common with all of them and drove them to make the decisions they did.