When "English Shaun" and "Sammy Bull" Nearly Collided

An unlikely duo, they nearly collided in Arizona....

I met Shaun Attwood in prison.

Actually, he was in prison and I was in an office in Manhattan reading his blog, Jon's Jail Journal, during my lunch break. The blog then consisted of stories about horrible jail conditions: the roaches, the boiling humidity arising from the facility's broken swamp cooler. He'd written the blog stories on toilet paper and smuggled them out.

Shaun, who was since featured on NatGeo, came to America, Arizona specifically, from England to seek his fortune and was busted for running a drug empire. He spent a couple of years in one of America’s toughest jails—run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County.

I have posted a few stories about Shaun aka "English Shaun" who I consider a good friend. Stories about Shaun have also proven to be quite popular with my blog readership, especially one about an old-school mobster with whom Shaun had done prison time. The two became quite close, actually. RIP, TwoTonys...

Shaun is now an author, an excellent one, and he is releasing a new version of his book "Hard Time: Life with Sheriff Joe Arpaio in America's Toughest Jail ." The 2nd Edition of the book is free to download at Smashwords for Kindles and all devices: 


The excerpt below centers on a more detailed account of how he brushed up against the crew of Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, who was out in the Midwest starting life over as a pill-pusher. Shaun had first acquired protection from The Mexican Mafia...
Jimmy Moran....

I threw raves for thousands of people, generating enough profits to give away hundreds of Ecstasy pills every weekend and to squander thousands on lavish after-parties and other drugs like ketamine and crystal meth.

The more drugs I fed my friends, the more they pampered me. I was buying popularity, especially with the glitter girls, who spoiled me at the after-parties. Deep in the rave lifestyle, I lost touch with reality. My arrogance was such that I was enjoying every second of it without thinking I’d ever get caught.

The ravers nicknamed me “English Shaun” and “The Bank of England.” I was considered one of the wealthiest people in Arizona’s rave scene. To avoid getting robbed, I formed my own security team. One of my bodyguards, G Dog – a tall Mexican American with long hair and prison-tattooed arms – urged me to meet his brother, Raul. He said if Raul and his associates had my back, I’d have few problems in Arizona. With G Dog, I drove to Raul’s house in Tempe.

The grenade launcher on top of the biggest TV I’d ever seen belonged to Raul, who was watching a much smaller screen showing the comings and goings on the street outside crowded with lowriders.

“This is the English guy,” G Dog said.

Raul, short and plump, tilted his head back. “What’s up, homey,” he said without smiling.

“Pleased to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand. “I like your TV.”

“Damn, you talk funny – like an accent – I guess you are from England, homey. Come through to the kitchen. Meet my homies.”

Raul introduced me to a gang of gargantuan Mexican Americans. Heavily tattooed, they were standing around a table laden with slabs of crystal meth, cocaine and various weighing scales. They eyed me suspiciously. The biggest swung a spoon with cocaine towards my face.

“Snort it.” There was danger in his wide and alert eyes.

Concerned, I looked to G Dog for help, but he just nodded back with a stern expression. G Dog hadn’t yet told me these men were members of the New Mexican Mafia, the most powerful criminal organisation in Arizona at that time. Or that the man with the spoon was a hit man on a killing spree. Sensing the gravity of the situation, I rolled a hundred-dollar bill, pushed one nostril flat and snorted the cocaine through the other.

The man with the spoon nodded and shook my hand. But he didn’t smile. None of them smiled.

“Shaun, let’s go talk business.” Raul led me into a bedroom. “G Dog tells me you can get this Ecstasy shit and it’s all good.”

“I can get it,” I said, my throat gagging on the numbing aftertaste of the cocaine.

“None of us have ever done that shit. The only thing I do is smoke good weed. Know what I’m saying? I’m having a party at the weekend, some women are coming over and we wanna check your Ecstasy out.”

I was present when they all took Ecstasy for the first time. Not only did they smile, it reduced them to overgrown teddy bears who wouldn’t stop hugging me. That’s how I earned the protection of the New Mexican Mafia. It was a relationship that probably saved my life later on, when, for reasons of their own, they killed some rival gangsters who were about to shoot and rob me.

In the run up to the dot.com bubble, I started day trading and became a millionaire. Now I could really expand my operation. My new main supplier in LA, DJ Mike Hotwheelz, was arrested by the Feds, and the other LA suppliers like Sol couldn’t fill my increasingly large orders, so I imported bulk Ecstasy from Amsterdam. At the peak of things, I had my own rave clothing/music store and LSD chemist.

At the Little White Chapel on the Las Vegas Strip I married Amy – a political science student at the University of Arizona who was also a topless dancer doing lesbian Internet porn. We moved into a million-dollar mountainside home in Sin Vacas, Tucson. I had run-ins with gangsters such as Sammy the Bull, my main competitor in the Ecstasy market.
The first time I discussed business with members of Sammy the Bull’s crew, I brought one of the notorious Rossetti Brothers, who also worked security for me. Outside of the meeting place, Heart 5, a bar in Tucson, I drank some GHB, which made me fearless. I said to Rossetti, “While I talk to Spaniard, make sure you’re always somewhere you can pull your gun in case they try to kidnap me. I’m not going to start any shit, but who knows how big a crew he’s with or what might happen.”
"No problem. If they try anything, I’ll open up on the motherfuckers.”

I was at the bar when a six-and-a-half-foot man with dark spiky hair and biceps as broad as my neck tapped me on the shoulder. “I’m Mark, Spaniard’s partner. He wants to see you in the VIP area.”

“OK, Mark.” I shook his hand and followed him.

“Glad you came, English Shaun,” said Spaniard, a well-groomed Hispanic. “Mark, clear that sofa.”

Mark yelled, “You need to move, so we can sit down!” The people on the sofa jumped up.

To the side of us, Rossetti slipped into the VIP area. As I sat between them, the GHB jolted my brain. It made me playful and crazy. Just like my grandfather used to do to me, I squeezed their legs above the knee. “So what’s this all about?”

They were taken aback for a few seconds, until Spaniard laughed and said in a friendly voice, “Look, we know you’re doing your own thing. You’ve got a lot of people working for you. As do we. It would be best if we worked together rather than be enemies.”

“What’re you proposing?”

“We’re getting a lot of pills and we figure we can give you a better price than what you’re paying."

“You don’t know what I’m paying. I’m familiar with your pills. I don’t think the quality is there. I’m getting European pills. None of the coloured pills you guys are getting.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are talking shit about our pills?” Mark yelled.

Due to the GHB, Mark didn’t scare me. I viewed him as a funny monster with a little brain.

“Hey, Mark, calm down,” Spaniard said.

“Do you have any idea who Jimmy Moran is?” Mark said, fuming.

“No,” I said.

“Sammy the Bull,” Mark said. “That’s who we work for. One call to him and we can have you taken out to the desert.”

I was aware of Sammy the Bull from the news. He’d been a hit man for the Gambino Crime Family – one of the five Italian Mafia families that dominated organised crime in America – run by John Gotti, aka “the Teflon Don.” Later on, Sammy the Bull became an FBI informant, confessed to killing nineteen people, and helped the Feds put the Teflon Don away for life. Still, looking at Spaniard and Mark in shiny animal-print polyester shirts, I assumed they didn’t have as much power in Arizona as my associates in the New Mexican Mafia. I glanced at Rossetti. The look on his face said, Should I shoot that lunkhead or what?

Almost imperceptibly, I shook my head at Rossetti.

“There’s no need to say all that,” Spaniard said. “Forgive Mark, Shaun. He gets upset real easy. He’s a bit of a hothead.”

“I have no problems with you guys, but I really don’t care who you work for. You just moved in. Over the years, I’ve made friends with a lot of locals.”

“I hear you,” Spaniard said, implying he knew of my connections. “But what if we can get you a better price on pills, would you be interested?”

“I appreciate the offer, guys, but no thanks. And here’s why: before you guys moved into Ecstasy, the police pretty much ignored us. Now your runners are going around bragging they’re the biggest Ecstasy barons in the world. That’s brought considerable heat to the scene.

And I’m not saying this to put you guys down, but to give you a heads-up on what’s happening. Every weekend at the raves, we’ve got undercover cops and vehicles hanging around. We’ve got undercover vehicles taping who’s going in and out of the raves and driving through the parking lots taping licence plates. It’s no coincidence that the police moved in shortly after you guys. It’s not each other’s crews we need to beware of, it’s the cops.”

“What about your security team?” Spaniard asked.

“What about it?” I asked.

“Will our runners have problems with your guys jacking their pills?”

“I don’t want to start a war with you guys. If my security grab someone and we find out they’re part of your crew, we’ll let them go. Ecstasy’s so hard to get and the demand so high, there’s enough of a market for us to coexist. But if I tell my security not to jack your runners, I don’t expect any problems from you guys for my runners in the Scottsdale scene.”

“Sounds like a good agreement.” Spaniard shook my hand.

The peace didn’t last long. Sammy the Bull’s thugs knocked the teeth out of my top Ecstasy salesperson and offered a reward to anyone who could lead them to me.

Hoping for a peaceful night out in the last place any rivals would try to find me, I went to a gay club called the Crow Bar in downtown Phoenix. High on Ecstasy and relaxing with my friends, I was soon enjoying the friendly atmosphere and the house music pumping from giant black speakers. The floor was packed with topless muscular men, some in yellow construction hats, dancing under flickering strobe lights. I dared any of my friends to dance topless with a construction hat. With a wide grin, Wild Man got on the floor and grooved his big body, surrounded by hip-grinding hunks.

A strip-tease dancer partying in the Crow Bar recognised me and called Sammy the Bull’s crew – which I was unaware of until Sammy the Bull’s son told me years later. Sammy the Bull dispatched his son as the head of an armed team with instructions to kidnap me from the Crow Bar. They were going to hold me for ransom, and if the ransom wasn’t paid, they were going to take me out to the desert to eliminate their competition. Fortunately, Wild Man got into a scuffle and we had to leave the Crow Bar in a hurry. 

The Gravano crew arrived too late.


  1. Wow sean's story disproves karen gravano's story on mob wives saying " Her father had nothing to do with it" Also saying he sacrificed himself in order for karen, her mom, a sentence for karens ex bf and brother.


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