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White Gold: The Inside Story Of The UK's Largest Ever Drugs Haul [Paperback]

Eugene Costello
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Nov 2003
In 1989, an expatriate Scot based in Malaga offered Howarth some work over the winter delivering a yacht from Mallorca to the Costa del Sol. He agreed - and unwittingly stumbled into Operation Klondyke, Customs and Excise's biggest-ever drugs operation in Scotland. With the man referred to as 'Mr X' in the subsequent trial, Howarth was now under surveillance, unaware of the dangerous game in which he had become embroiled. The following winter, 'Mr X' offered him another job, working on a cargo ship doing sand runs between Gibraltar and Portugal. Howarth took with him a young Ullapool fisherman, Noel Hawkins. Their joy at finding work in the lean winter months turned to horror when they learned the true destination and purpose of their trip. They were en route for the coast of Venezuela to rendezvous with a jet plane that would be dropping off half a metric ton of virtually pure cocaine. Howarth and Hawkins were then to use their intimate knowledge of the Highland coast to land the gear back in Scotland - and if they did not co-operate their lives, and the lives of their families, would be in jeopardy. Thanks to an alert local policeman near Ullapool, the drugs were discovered as they were being transported to London. Incredibly, Customs and Excise initially charged the two men with supplying cannabis - until they examined the haul......

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White Gold: The Inside Story Of The UK's Largest Ever Drugs Haul + Marching Powder
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Product details

  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; 1st edition (3 Nov 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840187336
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840187335
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,147,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A great story, chock full of detail and hilarious characters... Whiskey Galore with class As. -- FHM magazine, January 2004

A grimly fascinating tale of a life lived on the wrong side of the tracks -- Mail on Sunday, December 2003

A thrilling tale, seen from the eyes of both the hunters and the hunted... -- Ross-Shire Journal

The story unfurls with pace, veering between outright farce, drunken violence and the chilling proximity of the truly despicable. -- Scotland On Sunday, December 21, 2003

Book Description

'Three fishermen from the Scottish Highlands received a total of 55 years in prison after being found guilty of smuggling into Britain cocaine worth more than 100 million - the biggest drugs seizure by customs officials in the country's history - THE TIMES.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars white gold 10 April 2006
By A Customer
Gotta say, as a native of Ullapool, the stories been a bit glamourised, but still a great read.
Growing up we all knew that our some of our mates fathers were in jail for drugs, but it was never talked about so its really interesting to actually hear what really went on that year.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I don't normally go in for true crime books but,
following a recommendation from a friend, I thought
I'd give White Gold a go. I'm glad I did - I couldn't
put it down. It's one of those books that you find
yourself snatching every possible moment to read - on
the Tube, in your lunch hour - it's a real page
turner. The book is obviously based on months of
research - Costello cites court records, laws, social
work reports - but he has pulled them all together in
such a way as to make you feel you are almost reading
a thriller, with a polished, pacy plot and crackling
What's really clever about it is that you get the
story from varuious perspectives, including the
smugglers, the police and Customs, so it's never
By the last few chapters, it becomes completely
unputdownable as you are desperate to find out what
happens. It made me think about the stories behind the
headlines on drugs busts and in his thought-provoking
final chapter, Costello puts the whole question of our
drugs laws into context. Brilliant stuff - I'll be
reading it again on holiday and now know what to buy for friends and family for Christmas.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Farcical 16 Feb 2009
Im afraid i disagree with most of the other reviews of this book.

It is terribly written and strays rather far from reality. It reads like an article from the News of the World and would be better suited to such readers. Though the story is factual in some respects it ought to be taken with a pinch of salt...

As somebody from Ullapool it is plain that the author and Howarth have used a lot of artistic licence in the writting of this book.

Young boy having sex with 40 year old woman who found him irresistable, a woman who seemingly had picked him up when he was hitch-hiking?! There are many such fantasies of Howarth's in this book.
Note the other men involved refused to contribute to this book.

The descriptions of Ullapool make it sound like a swashbuckling port like those found in novels such as Treasure Island, with fearsome men prowling the streets at night, women and children living in fear!

As for the main characters in the book, you'll find the people rather more different in person!

Badly written drivel. A real shame as the REAL story would have made a fascinating read.

Certainly would not recommend this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read 30 Jun 2004
Read a review of this book describing as Whisky Galore with coke, or something like that - great description. It's basically about a bunch of hopeless fishermen getting caught up in this mad plan to b4ring all this coke in, and it's hilarious. I like the bits on the boat best where they end up going to South America to pick the stuff up, it's unbeleivable how they nearly got away with it. Maybe a bit too much journo detail but that's my only niggle. Very funny, well written and a great story.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pace & Humour 18 Nov 2003
By A Customer
This is the extroadinary story of a huge drugs bust that at it's time was Britain's biggest and had the press in full cry for "maximum justice". The reader sees the story unfold from both sides as customs close in on the unsuspecting traffickers. White Gold is the compelling account of two competing men, but only one would win. Don't miss it.
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