The Betrayer: How An Undercover Unit Infiltrated The Global Drug Trade by Guy Stanton with Peter Walsh

The Betrayer: How an Undercover Unit Infiltrated the Global Drug Trade is based on a true story and a thrilling read that takes readers on a wild ride through the eyes of a deep undercover operative (Guy Stanton) and his friend Peter Walsh.

Stanton’s role was primarily to infiltrate the drug trade, gather intelligence and reduce the flow of drugs into the UK for Customs and Excise.

This book details the incredible story of Guy Stanton (an assumed name) and the steps he took to integrate himself into the criminal underworld and the characters he met along the way. His friend Peter Walsh adds further information to provide further background (in italics).

Guy Stanton was one of the first recruits into the super secret Beta Projects that was set up to counter the growing drug smuggling trade into the UK. Soon Stanton and his colleagues were coming into contact with international criminal gangs, building their trust, then betraying them.

This meant building a strong cover and background along with all the symbols of wealth to convince even the most suspicious of crims that Stanton was a skilled and much needed player in the transportation of illegal drugs.

Of course, this means coming into contact with some pretty awful people with fearsome reputations for violence. Consistently, Stanton paints a thorough picture of the characters, the smuggling plots, quantities involved, the risks, close calls, outcomes, and it’s all amazingly detailed.

There are many standout bits in The Betrayer. For example, Stanton meets with two would-be drug smugglers in the UK with one boasting about how much his house cost. Putting him in his place to maintain his hardman cover, Stanton says he’s wearing ‘half that just on his arm’ (where a big flashy gold Rolex resides).

Another point was when Stanton, who was in such deep cover, very few people actually knew, appeared on the ‘persons of interest’ alerts distributed to other law enforcement agencies.

Many plots in The Betrayer are intricate and even after many meetings, the trail suddenly goes dead. Some tricks used by smugglers are also revealed and the lengths they go to land the merchandise on Britain’s shores. There are many build ups to cancel operations, sometimes for unknown reasons and once because the actual criminal co-conspirator shopped Stanton for money and the deal fell apart.

Me being Mr Joe Normal, I can only imagine the stress this placed on Stanton, who had to maintain his double life for many years. But what the book shows the flood of illegal drugs into Britain and how criminals looked at moving vast quantities into the country by any means.

There are a couple of things.

Because Stanton belonged to a super secret unit within HM Customs, there is no proof it ever existed. I’m not doubting the author or his colleagues. I’m just saying there’s nothing to corroborate any details in the book that I could find. Another irritation was the story being told by two people with the second person’s text in italics.

Well worth reading. A thoroughly engaging read. The Betrayer: How An Undercover Unit Infiltrated The Global Drug Trade by Guy Stanton with Peter Walsh is easily the best non-fiction book I’ve read for a long time. Rather than glorify the criminal enterprises, Stanton did his best to portray them for what they were and how intent he was on disrupting the drug trade.


If you liked this, you may like my review of The Big Con: How I Stole £30 Million And Got Away With It by Tony Sales. For more non-fiction book reviews, find them here.