South East Wales

BBC film crew spots wanted drug smuggler Terrence Earle

Terrence and Michael Earle Image copyright Police
Image caption Brothers Terrence and Michael Earle

One of Wales' most wanted criminals was caught after he blundered into BBC cameras filming in the Netherlands.

Drugs smuggler Terrence Earle was spotted in Amsterdam as the crew filmed the new Fugitives series on BBC One.

Earle and his brother Michael, from Merseyside, had tried to smuggle £500,000 of drugs into south Wales before going on the run in 2015.

They were jailed for three years in July 2016 at Cardiff Crown Court.

Detectives with the Welsh Regional Organised Crime Unit first received a tip-off about a shipment of cannabis resin leaving Merseyside for south Wales in early 2015.

A lorry carrying 179kg of the drug was stopped on the A449 dual carriageway near Newport and the driver was arrested.

Inquiries suggested the Earle brothers were responsible for organising the shipment on behalf of drug gangs in the north west of England and south Wales.

As part of their investigation, detectives went to Liverpool in August 2015 and carried out a series of dawn raids.

Det Insp Julian Bull, of the Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: "There was only going to be one outcome for me and that was success. Unfortunately… my worst dreams came true. They'd gone on the run."

He turned to the public for help and in November 2015 an appeal was made on the BBC's Crimewatch programme.

He said: "We had a number of calls. One call in particular pointed us to the fact that the Earle brothers may well be overseas, in particular in Holland."

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Media captionA BBC film crew spotted Terrence Earle while filming in Amsterdam

A year after the drugs bust, a BBC crew was filming in Amsterdam with Dutch police for the Fugitives series.

A Dutch police lieutenant who was being filmed told the programme: "While we give the interview, three men pass the camera and one of our crew, one of the police officers, thought he recognised somebody who is wanted by the British police.

"We break the interview and we follow that guy."

Officers approached a car containing the men and suspicions were raised as one of them was not carrying identification. Checks then confirmed that he was in fact Terrence Earle.

Michael Earle, the youngest brother, was thought to be in Spain and three months later was in custody, having tried to travel through Madrid airport.

"It's the old adage within my world that we only have to be lucky once, they have to be lucky all the time, and it's true when it comes to both Terrence and Michael Earle," added DI Bull.

"They probably felt they were untouchable but unfortunately for them they weren't."

  • Fugitives is on BBC One at 11:00 GMT on Monday or watch it on the BBC iPlayer.

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