Damned from Memory

Non-Fiction - True Crime
276 Pages
Reviewed on 03/04/2013
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Author Biography

Coming from a Irish-Catholic, blue collar family in southwest Philadelphia, I joined the force in 1977, made the K-9 unit three years later, then the Philadelphia Highway Patrol Line Squad four years after that. I moved to the Office of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigations Task Force in 1992 while still with the PD, and finally putting my foot though the door in 1995 as a Narc. I was in their employ throughout the period covered in “Damned from Memory."
In 31 years of Law Enforcement, I accumulated 4 Bravery Citations, 1 Heroism Citation, 33 Merit and Commendatory Letters, 2 Unit Citation Awards, 4 Chaplain of the Four Chaplain Awards, Profile in Courage Award, Policeman of the Month, and Department of Defense Letters of Appreciation. I have earned a Black Belt given by the American Judo/Jiu-Jitsu Federation. At 51 years young I enrolled in Community College bankrolling my previous credits I earned at Drexel University many years earlier, becoming a member of the Phi Beta Kappa International Honor Society. Today I write books, and provide Schutzhund training for difficult dogs.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

"Damned from Memory" is an explosive expose by former US narcotic agent Sparky McLaughlin who, according to him, has been a cop all his life. The first part of the book is his own personal story explaining how he developed a calling to become a cop and his first few years on the job in Philadelphia. In telling the rest of his story, we get to learn the flow of drugs from the streets and brings us all the way to the White House, the US State Department, and the CIA. It is disheartening to know that Washington politicians are willing to raise funds even from personalities who are linked to drug traffickers. And it is an ugly revelation that dedicated cops are punished, with their reputations soiled, when they want to get to the bottom of the narcotic problem in the US.

Harassed by the CIA in cahoots with international drug traffickers, McLaughlin painfully learns that honesty and dedication to his job as a narcotic agent will change the course of his life forever. His book "Damned from Memory" is a creative nonfiction that exposes one man's war against the narc-traffickers in the US and the reasons why it is impossible to win it. Face to face with powerful criminals working together with international drug traffickers, it becomes a matter of life and death. Sparky McLaughlin writes with frankness that shows his courage and dedication. His life reads like an action packed novel and sends a chilling message on why the US can never win the war against narc-traffickers. This is one of those books that keep the reader on his seat until the very last page. Written with zeal and conviction, it seems the author's pen can also be made as an effective weapon in this ongoing war. What makes the story more compelling is the fact that it is happening in real life. And what makes it scary is that it is still happening now.


Unbelievable knowing it was and apparently is a true story.

john mac

Hard to put down,great details!

James Kennedy

True Philly Cops doing the Job as it should be done. Stepping on toes and not caring whose filling the shoes. The Philly Badlands at their Best/Worst.

Kevin Quigley

Incredible Story. When's the Movie?


Incredible read. Facts substantiated meticulously.

Michael Levine

"I spent most of my life as an undercover narcotic agent. Take it from me, John "Sparky" McLaughlin is one of a very few law enforcement officers whose talents, creativity and courage have brought him face-to-face with those highly placed criminals in our own government who have betrayed all of us with their covert support of international drug traffickers. Sparky did not back down. He obeyed his oath to protect and serve, went after them, and paid the price for his courage. Now he is left with his final weapon: the pen. When you read the first page of this book, it will hook you in the way it did me. What a ride." - Mike Levine, author of New York Times Best-seller "Deep Cover" and "The Big White Lie"

Rick Horn

John "Sparky" McLaughlin is a well-decorated and hard-hitting cop who is unafraid to expose people and agencies that "put their thumbs on the scales of justice." His documented conclusions and well-founded opinions deserve your closest attention. We need to recognize that "Sparky" McLaughlin made enormous personal and career sacrifices for the better good of all of us. With 30 years' experience as a DEA Special Agent serving 'round the world, I am convinced that the drug war could actually be won with the likes of more John "Sparky" McLaughlin's and The "Bastard Squad" on the job. They are among the best of the best!

-Richard A. "Rick" Horn Special Agent DEA (ret.) After 16 years of litigation, Horn won a $3 million dollar lawsuit against persons and agencies that sabotaged DEA Operations and were shown to have "put their thumbs on the scales of justice".

Luther Henry

I just started reading the book and find it impossible to put down. I know Sparky and many of the men in the book as I worked for the AGs Bureau of Narcotics Investigations in late 80s and 90s first as a Regional Director and later as AIC of Internal Affairs. I always held the men from the Phila. PD in high regard and knew that their daily activities were usually much different than in most other parts of the State. Sparky has the ability to keep the reader on the edge of their seat and almost feel the same emotions and senses as the folks portrayed in the book, it is as though you are right there along with the guys as they go about their daily duties and I can tell you for a fact that it is as real as it gets. What a movie this book would make. Real cops and drug agents doing things on a daily basis that most people could not even imagine in their more civilized and comfortable lives. Kudos to Sparky McLaughlin for writing a real life story. - Luther Henry Ret. AIC Internal Affairs, Attorney General

Donna Ward

Did you ever wonder why we're fighting a "War on Drugs" for forty plus years and the drug problem is getting worse instead of better? Well, this book is a missing piece of that grand puzzle that not many people are willing to expose. Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. The author gives a detailed description of how our police are fighting a war with their hands tied behind their backs by a corrupt system and corrupt individuals in government. This story is laced with humor and loaded with facts. After reading this book I know that there is hope for America as long as we have people like John "Sparky" McLaughlin exposing the truth.

Geralyn Hemphill

This non-fictional, firsthand account of police work is a must read for all current and former officers who are just trying to do the job............

Margarita Canahuate

An interesting compendium of international dominican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) pairing in with important and popular political parties figures, within the United States and the Dominican Republic. DAMNED FROM MEMORY describes how drug money or blood money is laundered using presidential candidates to fuel their candidacy. The undercover Philly agent John "Sparky" McLaughlin or Callahan, stood by his principles, his oath to protect and serve, fighting the DTOs and his own Government, who betrayed him and the "Bastard Squad." Margarita Canahuate - Editor Diario Horizonte

Karina Sanchez

Sparky exposed in this book, hoy drug money and politica corruption are ruining the land betraying the hard working and honest men. Dominican officials provided intelligence and operational support to the drug trafficking ring. And when the high ranking military and police are never getting charged with any wrong doing, one wonder that's because corruption is deeply connected with the justice system and current government high-up ringleaders.