Evil Empire

Investigators say he was bigger than Sammy the Bull. His minions say he ruled the drug trade in the Valley's rave scene. Now, authorities have "English Shaun," the man they claim reigned over a nighttime empire of ecstasy, meth, violence and excess.

"So they're moving really fast and . . . meanwhile all this shit is soaking into their pores because their hands are all sweaty because they're nervous, so they're all getting super high. . . . So of course, the actual dose of these pills is all over the place.

"I was looking at all the pills in the fish tank, which were piling up at a pretty impressive rate, and in some of the capsules, there's just a little pinch of powder at the capsule, and it some others, a full half the capsule is full of powdered E, like they're ready to dose an elephant."

That weekend, the scene was rife with reports of people either tripping on one hit or taking three and feeling nothing. "It was insanity," Marcus says. "It went on for weeks, where people would take one capsule and feel nothing an hour later so they'd think the hits were weak, so they'd take two more and those two would be packed to the brim, and 10 hours later they'd be sitting on a corner talking to Santa Claus. And it was all because few people thought to look to compare the amount of powder in these capsules. . . . It was such total chaos that taking an E in Phoenix that weekend was like playing a pharmaceutical slot machine."

Justin DeGarmo
In May, "English" Shaun Attwood and 12 others were arrested and indicted on charges that they took part in a multimillion-dollar drug ring known as "the Evil Empire." Row 1 (from left): Angel Capdevilla, Andrea Swanson, Carina McCormick, Patrick Powers. 


Row 2: Antwaine Cotton, Bonnie Helle, Cody Bates, Peter Mahoney. 


Row 3: Gary Menichello, George Garcia, Kerry Osborne, Sherwin Williams.
In May, "English" Shaun Attwood and 12 others were arrested and indicted on charges that they took part in a multimillion-dollar drug ring known as "the Evil Empire."

Row 1 (from left): Angel Capdevilla, Andrea Swanson, Carina McCormick, Patrick Powers.

Row 2: Antwaine Cotton, Bonnie Helle, Cody Bates, Peter Mahoney.

Row 3: Gary Menichello, George Garcia, Kerry Osborne, Sherwin Williams.

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Read Westword's related feature story about black-market GHB, "Sip of Fools."

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Marcus says he stopped buying E from Shaun shortly thereafter. He was disturbed by what he describes as Shaun's increasingly erratic behavior, including Shaun's increasing paranoia and his loud, public boasts about being a wealthy drug lord.

"Shaun was radiating sketch," Marcus says. "He had this favorite line of his, where if the subject of E came up in a cluster of people, whether he knew them or not, Shaun would start bragging — " Marcus affects a light English accent:

"I can get you any kind of fucking E you want, man. Green clovers, blue stars, yellow moons, the whole bowl of Lucky Charms with a little sugar on top."

Marcus drops the accent, then continues: "Now, picture that lovely little self-promo coming from this tall, bald-headed motherfucker with an English accent, waving his arms all over the room, sweating, twitching, all gakked out on speed, saying this loud enough for the whole party to hear. And if you're me, standing over in the corner with a beer, and maybe you just stopped by the party to pick up 100 Es from Shaun's crew, right? Well, seeing him acting that way gets you to thinking, and what it got me to thinking was, I need to forget I ever knew this guy.'"

It turned out to be easier said than done. "I let Shaun know I wouldn't be picking up any more E from him, and he sent that goon of his, that fucking soccer hooligan in a silk shirt" — he identifies the man as Peter Mahoney — "he sent him around to have a little talk with me that went like this: You don't want to sell E anymore, fine. But you don't sell anyone else's E, either. We find out who you are, we'll take your kneecaps off with a handsaw.' Or words to that effect.

"I haven't sold E since."


Throughout this epic rise and fall, law enforcement was not oblivious to English Shaun's activities. Tempe police received an anonymous tip in 1998 about a house in the Valley where raves and after-hours parties were occurring, complete with the illegal party favors they knew Shaun reveled in. But just as the investigation was getting started, "we hit a wall," says a source close to the investigation. "Shaun moved again and he was a ghost."

In January 2001, another source called with concrete information about Shaun's whereabouts and activities that set things in motion for a full-blown investigation. Extensive surveillance began and wire taps were installed on the phone lines of key players in March of 2002. For the next 80 days, law enforcement agents from Phoenix and Tempe sat through thousands of calls, sometimes hundreds in one day.

What they expected to be an ecstasy-based operation took on greater proportions: methamphetamine, LSD, marijuana, cocaine, Xanax, morphine, somas, Valium, GHB.

Shaun was careful on the phone, police sources note, which they say explains the scant nine charges against him. He would meet to discuss details of his business in parking lots of supermarkets, shopping malls, or at restaurants like Malee's on Main.

But by May 16, law enforcement — which by now included U.S. Customs, the DEA, and Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe police — had heard enough. They picked up Shaun at his girlfriend's apartment in Scottsdale just after 7 a.m. A source close to the investigation describes his living conditions as squalor, with sex toys on the floor and trash strewn around the apartment.

Attwood denies the charges against him, and at their arraignments in May, all 13 entered pleas of not guilty. "I am shocked and appalled at the seriousness of these charges," Attwood said. On his booking record, he listed "sales" as his occupation.

Where Shaun's money went is another piece of the puzzle prosecutors are slowly putting together. An account in Attwood's name has been seized with a little over $20,000; but sources close to the investigation say they suspect he may have off-shore accounts, and add that he has been known to use many aliases. Friends also say that any time a crony of Shaun's would make a trip overseas, they would courier out envelopes filled with cash. They say Shaun would bring his aging grandmother over to the U.S. for frequent medical treatment, then stuff the structure of her wheelchair with money before she rolled onto the plane and back to the U.K.

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