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White Gold: The Inside Story Of The UK's Largest Ever Drugs Haul Paperback – 3 Nov 2005
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"'A great story, full of hilarious characters' **** - FHM"
"'A grimly fascinating tale of a life lived on the wrong side of the tracks' - Mail on Sunday"
"'The story unfurls with pace' - Scotland on Sunday"
"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. See all Product description
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This book doesn't pretend to have any literary allusions. It is exactly what it sells itself as: a fascinating, fast-paced account of how the police pieced together an amazing drugs bust - at that time (and possibly still?) involving the largest haul of cocaine in in UK history.
If this rollicking read isn't quite Mr Ancel''s cup of tea, fair enough, but I don't find his comments either balanced or fair, as it seems he was looking for some other genre entirely.
All I can say is I thought it an interesting and illuminating bedtime pageturner. It''s no Wuthering Heights, but it''s no Penny Dreadful either.
I clear my bookshelves out of what I call "chaff" every six months or so. I chucked my copy of this out two weeks ago (the spine was damaged with compression and the pages were falling out a bit) and I've come back specifically to buy another copy (I have always liked books with an "inside track" on real crime, especially written with both important detail AND humour).
If that's not the kind of thing Mr Ancel is interested in, why did he choose to read it in the first place?
Perhaps his somewhat vitriolic review says rather more about his poor choice of reading material than it does about the book itself?