In common usage, Operation Snow White refers to the Church of Scientology's Snow White Program as carried out by a Church of Scientology organization known as the Guardian's Office, specifically a number of highly illegal activities that eventually led several high ranked Scientologists to be sent to prison. Scientologists, however, hold that the Snow White Program was not part of the Guardian's Office and the Program had nothing to do with the illegal activities of the Guardian's Office.
According to the Church of ScientologyAccording to the Church of Scientology, the Guardian's Office was meant to deal with the Church's legal and other external affairs, while the Snow White Program's purpose “was to legally correct a number of false governmental reports about the Church of Scientology, its leaders and members.” (Offsite source)
It was especially concerned with the fact that multiple counties eventually kept Scientology ships from docking in their ports, which they believed was caused by misinformation spread at a governmental level. Founder L. Ron Hubbard spent most of his time on these ships, and at the time they hosted the central administration of the Church.
While the Church absolutely admits that many illegal activities were done by members within the Guardian's Office, they state that the Guardian's Office was infiltrated by people attempting to establish autonomy from the Church and act as they saw fit, even if those activities were illegal and against Church policies. They have publicly stated the infiltrators have been declared Suppressive Persons, although critics insist various conspirators are still functioning within the church, which is contrary to being labeled a Suppressive Person.
The Guardian's Office has since been disbanded.
The Legal CaseAccording to the legal case, Scientologists from the Guardian's Office began infiltrating government agencies in multiple countries in order to control negative information about the Church. The activities was brought to light in 1976 when infiltrators into the IRS were discovered.
The founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was widely believed to have given direction for Operation Snow White, but he was never charged. His third wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, was one of eleven highly placed Scientologists found guilty in connection with the Operation. Many served prison time.