Tributes have been paid to a former drug supply ring enforcer who died after turning his life around.

"Wild Man" Peter Mahoney will be remembered as “the bravest; biggest; baddest; realest person I ever met” by lifelong friend, and crime author, Shaun Attwood who broke the news on social media.

Within hours of the post on Monday morning, “RIP Wildman” was trending on Twitter as well wishers and fans of Peter's appearances on Shaun’s True Crime podcast posted hundreds of tributes.

Paying tribute to his friend on Facebook, Shaun, 52, said: “RIP my best friend since childhood Wild Man Peter Mahoney the bravest, biggest, baddest realest person I ever met.“

Well-wishers recalled his "amazing" stories, the ECHO reports.

Peter had been a best friend of Shaun’s since their childhood in Widnes and, as told in Shaun’s "Hard Time" autobiographical book trilogy, headed to Arizona in the US to help run a drugs ring in 1996.

Shaun had vowed to help out "Wild Man" and share any success, having taken Peter “under his wing” when they were children.

In his books, Shaun revealed that Peter was already known as "Wild Man" by the age of 17, after the nickname was invented by an uncle.

The pair’s fortunes were soon intertwined in Shaun’s growing drug and rave enterprise.

Shaun, a University of Liverpool business degree graduate-turned stockbroker, used his "entrepreneurial flair" to make huge profits selling ecstasy, backed up by Wild Man's capacity for unpredictability and violence.

In 2002, they were both arrested as part of a Tempe Police Department takedown which saw a SWAT team storm Shaun’s house.

The two co-defendants were convicted as part of what prosecutors called “The Attwood Organisation” supply ring.

The investigation was supported by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), US Customs DEA, US Customs and two other Arizona police departments.

Peter and Shaun were placed in the notorious Maricopa County Jail system under controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, himself later convicted by a judge and then pardoned by outgoing US President Donald Trump for contempt of court.

Shaun later received nine-and-a-half years for a plea deal, ultimately serving just under six years.

Although no cause of death has yet been revealed, Shaun issued an appeal on social media in March, calling for urgent medical attention for Wild Man, who was showing Covid-19 symptoms and said he didn't want a hospital bed because "there are people in greater need than him".