Back in the 1990s Wayne Hart could sell up to 9,000 ecstasy tablets over one weekend while working nightclubs across Dublin.
After leaving home at 14, Wayne had spent years travelling between his home city and the United Kingdom, but it was in his late teens that he got wrapped up in serious trouble by dealing drugs.
Starting out with selling hash, he progressed to selling ecstasy and then later became addicted to the heroin he initially used to manage his ecstasy comedowns, becoming a heroin dealer as a way of supplying his own addiction.
By the time he was 21, he seemed to have it all, with a house, nice girlfriend and two children, however his profession and subsequent addiction saw him spiralling.
Part of an almost unfathomable network of dealers in Dublin at the time, Wayne has now spoken about his role in the drug trade for the new three-part series Dublin Narcos, which tells the story of how heroin, ecstasy and cocaine changed the fabric of the city from the 1980s onwards.
After experiencing rave culture in London, Wayne was excited when clubs started opening up in Dublin a few years after he had first attended one.
‘Ireland was a few years behind UK but then the house music and acid and the E [ecstasy] hit,’ he told Metro.co.uk.
‘I was excited and thought it was lovely happy days.’
He explained: ‘Dublin is party central and when the clubs opened there was a readymade cohort.’
At the time, in the early 1990s, Wayne was working across three clubs, where he was selling thousands upon thousands of tablets as people partied.
‘At the time you had three main clubs in Dublin where the rave scene happened, and they were paradise for drug dealers,’ he recalled.
‘One would close as another was opening and you could sell about 900 [tablets] a night.
‘There was always a constant turnover of people wanting to buy.’
At the height of his dealing, Wayne was earning a jaw-dropping amount, at times bringing home £10,000 in a single week.
‘It was crazy because I didn’t have any respect or understanding of the money,’ he said.
‘I had cars and motorbikes and a house that I totally gutted and renovated and fitted out with the top-quality furniture and appliances.
‘I was footloose and fancy free with cash.’
It was a mindset he also extended to his growing family.
‘I had two young kids and I wanted to keep up with the Joneses and the kids had to have the best of everything too.’
As Wayne explained, drug dealing was his, and many other peoples form of ‘social mobility’.
‘At that time, it was the unemployment economy in Ireland and it wasn’t an excuse for what I did, but it is the context and understanding for why we had to make our own employment,’ he said.
But a few years later everything came crashing down when Wayne was charged with drug supply and was sent to prison for the first time.
By the time he decided to turn his life around, Wayne had spent a total of 15 years behind bars and had 54 convictions under his belt.
It was during one of these stints that he’d had enough, and decided it was time to learn and read and write, a skill he’d struggled to learn while dealing with dyslexia in the classroom years earlier.
After working hard to get his literacy skills up to scratch, he then took on several other courses while he was incarcerated.
It marked a turning point.
‘I got out and realised that education, no matter what form it was, was a new way to fight,’ he explained.
While he was met with people who weren’t quite convinced he had changed, Wayne was determined.
‘While people say a leopard never changes its spot, I skinned the leopard,’ he said.
Part of that transformation involved giving back and doing his best to ensure that other at-risk youth didn’t follow the life path he had taken.
He now works with government agencies to support vulnerable young people in Dublin.
‘I’m not here to save the world but if I can help one person today, that is my job done,’ he said.
‘I am privileged today to be where I am and who I am because of my background, and it sounds crazy but prison did save my life.
‘I’m not advocating people go to prison, but for me that is what it was.’
While everything he went through was an incredibly ‘hard process’, Wayne said it was all worth it for where he ended up.
Dublin Narcos also features first hand testimony from the kingpins, cops, journalists, ravers and users who were all connected to the story of the rise in addiction, violence and organised crime in the Irish capital.
Dublin Narcos is now streaming on Sky Atlantic and on Now.
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