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The Hunt for Mr X: Our documentary investigates Tayside diver behind £100m cocaine plot

Dale Haslam investigates what happened to Julian Chisholm aka "Mr X"
Dale Haslam
Image: Michael McCosh / DC Thomson

In the early 1990s, Tayside diver-turned-drugs baron Julian Chisholm spectacularly shed his shackles and handcuffs and fled into the Spanish desert.

To this day, he remains among the world’s most-wanted men after a massive Ullapool drugs bust.

Next year will mark 30 years since the astonishing escape, which sparked outrage among Spanish and Scottish officials.

Our exclusive new documentary, The Hunt For Mr X, explores the dramatic events leading up to the escape – including a £100m Ullapool cocaine bust, which remains the biggest in Scottish history.

Julian Chisholm. Image: Supplied

Our investigation includes on-camera accounts from key figures in the shocking saga for the very first time and takes us around the world on a rollercoaster ride packed with mystery and intrigue.

What is this documentary about?

The documentary tells the incredible story of an elusive Scottish drugs baron Julian Chisholm who masterminded the biggest cocaine importation in Scottish history.

We track his gang as they travel around the world – trailed by police and customs officers, doing deals with Moroccan gangsters, Basque terrorists and Colombia’s Cali Cartel.

The story explores how it came to be that Mr X is still on the run today – and what has happened in the 29 years since he fled.

Retired customs boss Graham Dick, who spoke on camera for the first time about the incredible Mr X story. Image: DC Thomson

Who is Julian Chisholm?

Julian Chisholm is a 59-year-old Scottish man whose family had links to Blairgowrie and Strathpeffer – where they owned hotels.

He trained as a North Sea oil diver in Aberdeen and made the dramatic transition into a gang boss.

The Julian Chisholm drugs network became infamous and his cannabis was dealt all over the UK.

Then he shifted his attentions to cocaine.

Some of the cocaine recovered after a customs and police drugs bust in northern Scotland in 1991. Picture: Scottish Court Service.

Why is he called Mr X?

In the early 1990s, the Crown Office banned media outlets from naming Julian Chisholm in case it hindered the court proceedings if he were to be caught.

Needing to call the mastermind of the drugs gang something after a huge Ullapool cocaine bust, the press dubbed him Mr X.

Where is the story set?

Julian Chisholm had links to gang members in Glenisla in Angus and also Dundee.

He would also travel from his luxury pad in the Costa del Sol to Ullapool where more of his underlings were based.

Ullapool. PIcture: Kenny Elrick

The globetrotting tale also takes us to the sun-kissed coastlines of Majorca and Gibraltar – and also Venezuela and Canada, as well as all over the north of Scotland.

Was Julian Chisholm ever caught?

There was a famous Ullapool drugs bust that led to many of Chisholm’s henchmen serving huge prison sentences, but the man himself evaded capture by hiding in the shadows – until one fateful day the story took a dramatic twist.

Who features in the documentary?

The documentary features the first ever on-camera interview with customs boss Graham Dick – the man who endured a four-year game of cat and mouse with Julian Chisholm across the world.

We also interview Chet Sandhu, who served time in the same prison as Chisholm.

Chet Sandhu – a former inmate at the same jail as Julian Chisholm.

Also featuring are journalists Marc Maouad and Eugene Costello who spent years researching elements of this fascinating story.

Another contributor is Stonehaven woman Kathryn Thondycraft-Pope who played a key role in bringing the gang to justice.

There is also insight from our own Impact investigations reporter Dale Haslam, who spent two years researching Chisholm’s gang.

Where can I watch The Hunt For Mr X?

The documentary is available to watch now – at the top of this page.

If you would like to speak to our Impact investigations team about the case, please email