Drug dealer smuggled 560kg of amphetamines through Fylde …
A drug dealer who smuggled amphetamines through Lancashire has been jailed for 16-and-a-half years.
Terence Earle, 48, played a “leading role” in a Merseyside-based organised crime gang which plotted to supply cocaine in England and Scotland and produce amphetamines in a “secret laboratory” north of the border, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
He was sentenced on Tuesday for two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine – one count relating to Scotland and the other to England and Wales – and conspiracy to produce amphetamines in Scotland. During a trial of issue, Earle, of St Helens, Merseyside, disputed supplying 11kg of cocaine and planning to supply six to eight more, accepting only being involved with the supply or transport of seven to eight kilograms.
He claimed he falsely promised to supply cocaine to “string along” a Scottish contact who he expected to produce amphetamine oil with a street value of more than £200,000 from chemicals Earle provided.
Martin Reid, prosecuting, said Earle and associates imported drugs into England from Europe and beyond. On March 23 2020, a quantity of alpha-phenylacetoacetamide – a chemical used in the production of amphetamine – was delivered to a property in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, Mr Reid said.
Mr Reid said the amount was enough to make a tonne of amphetamine with a street value of more than £1 million. The facility in Scotland set up to produce amphetamine has not been found by authorities so it is not clear how much has been made, the court was told.
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In messages sent using the encrypted Encrochat service, Earle discussed adulterating nine kilograms of cocaine to make 12kg. When asked about the messages by Mr Reid, Earle said: “You’re barking up the wrong tree, mate.”
The defendant compared his Encrochat messages, which were hacked by law enforcement agencies in 2020, to a book that could be interpreted in different ways by different readers.
He said: “In this book, I’m the author.” He claimed he facilitated the supply of one kilogram of cocaine after bumping into an acquaintance by chance in the street in Huyton, Merseyside.
He told the court: “You’ve got to remember, I’m in Huyton. You can get cocaine off anyone in Huyton.” Honorary recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary described some of Earle’s evidence as “incredulous”.
He said: “I’m sure you were playing a leading role in this conspiracy. You were organising, buying and selling on a commercial scale.” Julian Nutter, defending, said the “beef” of Earle’s business was in class B drugs and his guilty pleas took “some courage”.
The court was told Stephen Singleton, a 36-year-old from Birkdale, Merseyside, who ran a legitimate chemical supply company, supplied 500 litres of isopropyl alcohol for the conspiracy, which he was paid £4,000 for.
Singleton, who was already serving nine years and two months for playing a leading role in a drugs conspiracy in the North East of England, was jailed for three years and five months.
Lee Baxter, 48, of Norris Green, Liverpool, was given a sentence of one year and 10 months, suspended for 18 months, after pleading guilty to participating in the activities of an organised crime group in relation to the supply of class A drugs and production of class B drugs.
Stephen King, 49, of Dumbarton in Lanark, was given an 18-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, after being found guilty of participating in the activities of an organised crime group in relation to amphetamine.
Stanley Feerick, 68, of Dovecot, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and participating in the activities of an organised crime group. He will be sentenced at a later date.