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
Throughout the '70s and '80s, the Highland fishing village of Ullapool was a tough place to make a living. With huge Eastern bloc factory ships buying up the local catch, however, there was money to be made for those who had the stomach for it. Renowned for its lawlessness - drinking and fighting offered the Friday-night entertainment - it was no place for the squeamish.
One man was gaining quite a reputation for himself locally - Chris Howarth, known to everyone as 'Crazy Chris'. In the summer of '89, he met an expatriate Scot living in Malaga (referred to as 'Mr X' in the subsequent trial) who offered him some work of a dubious nature and set in motion a chain of events that would lead to what would be the UK's largest ever drugs haul.
Around the same time, working on a tip-off from a local informant and intelligence from their Spanish counterparts, Customs and Excise became aware of a major plot to smuggle huge amounts of drugs into the UK around Ullapool. As a result of this information, Operation Klondyke was born.
For the next 18 months, Howarth and Mr X would be under constant surveillance. The trail would lead from Ullapool and the east coast of Scotland to the Costa del Sol, Gibraltar and Venezuela. It would uncover distribution channels from Colombia's notorious Cali cartel to Europe and North America, operated by ruthless Spanish smuggling outfits. And it would finally lead to the UK's most valuable seizure of drugs, on a Scottish road as it was being transported down to the lucrative London market - half a tonne of virtually pure Colombian cocaine.
White Gold at last tells the inside story of Operation Klondyke - seen through the eyes of both the hunters and the hunted.