Stevie Bates’ father died when he was just 15.

In the 1960s, boys of his background were often sent out to sea, and Stevie was no different. Growing up in Cumbria, he was drafted in to join the Merchant Navy, and was shipped out to a small town on the west coast of Scotland.

Little did he know that he’d find himself under the wing of an international drug smuggler. He’s now written a book about his experience on the sea, and how it took Interpol nearly 20 years to catch up with his antics.

Now 68 and living in Stevenston since last year’s lockdown, he had spend 40 years being based out of the Ardrossan port and been crew of the “Baron boats” that saw a fleet being docked in the Clyde, as he told the Herald: “When I first heard of Ardrossan, I thought it was a place in India or somewhere further afield. When I found out it was a small Scottish town with a port, I was surprised.

“The boats I was put on, part of the ‘deep sea tramps’ they would be based at Ardrossan but would be able to load anywhere in the world.

“I was the youngest on the boat, so I would find myself as a deckhand, being asked to do all the menial labour tasks.

“One day, the deep freeze on the ship had broken, and it was just like how you would clean it at home, you would need to remove all the food and either use it or lose it. I was down in the deep recesses of the boat, in the back of this broken freezer and behind the rotting fish, I pulled out this brick. Like a soap bar. It was pure resin.

“I turned around and a man was standing behind me, he said ‘boy, come back to my mess, don’t tell anybody what you saw’ – and I did.

“He began to be a father figure to me, as a young boy who had only lost their dad, and incidentally taught me everything I needed to know about international drug smuggling. He passed away two years after that first encounter, the first book is his story.

“And it is also my story, I ended up being involved in smuggling for 19 years, how I managed to stay off the radar for so long, but Interpol eventually caught up with me and I had to spend four years in one of the worst jails in the world in Morocco.

“You have to read the book to find out more about that,” Stevie laughed.

And the name, Chinos to Kilos, has a significance to just how much was being smuggled.

“Chinos is the experience used for the amount of cannabis required for just one joint, but we weren’t talking that, or even Kilos, we were talking tonnes!

“One trip to Japan, we loaded 23,000 tonnes of phosphate, and within that there were 7.5 tonnes of cannabis.

“I am working on the final chapter of my second book at the moment. It is called Kilos to Chinos, the sequel. Which is about leaving the drug smuggling trade and settling down on land since.”

‘Chinos to Kilos’ is available from all online book stores and the sequel ‘Kilos to Chinos’ is out in Autumn.