Documentary series. Police in Worcestershire try to find a 33-year-old drug dealer who has already been sentenced to two years in prison back in Poland.
Browse content similar to Episode 12. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
-On the run...
-Get back here!
-..and over here.
Hands out now. Hands out!
When foreign criminals flee their home countries,
many hide out in the UK.
-Give me your hands.
-But if they think they're safe, they're wrong.
They know they're wanted.
A lot of these people are waiting for that knock on the door.
But the traffic in fugitives isn't all one way.
Across Europe, there are hundreds of British criminals
also trying to escape justice,
from the sun-drenched Costas
to the busy streets of the Dutch capital
this is how the police take down the fugitives...
You're under arrest under the Extradition Act 2003.
..both at home and abroad.
On today's programme,
police are sure they've caught a drug dealer
in this chance encounter.
He's not so convinced.
-Is that you?
-Who are you?
-Have you got any ID with you, Damian?
It's not, that's you, that is.
In east London, the Metropolitan Police's extradition team
are on the hunt for a man with a history of domestic violence.
Caused a really serious injury in one particular assault.
It's alleged that he's burnt her with a cigarette stub.
And how intelligence from the National Crime Agency
led to the dramatic arrest of this card-playing criminal
in a Spanish bar.
Once we knew what league he was playing in,
what games he was playing in,
we could work out where he was going to be and at what time.
London, home to more than 8.5 million people.
It's also home to the specialist unit whose work it is
to arrest foreign criminals on the run in the capital.
Around 40% of the population of London come from other countries.
Officers from the extradition unit
capture over 500 foreign fugitives each year.
But many more are hiding out amongst the city's law-abiding citizens.
Police, can you open the door, please?
Trying to find people in London
is searching for a needle in a haystack.
We have to go and try and find these people
and it means going from address to address
and getting up very early in all weathers
but that's the nature of the work.
DS Pete Rance and his colleague DC Jamie Darby
are out on the road in south-west London.
Their next target tonight
is a man convicted of domestic violence offences in Belgium.
He's caused a really serious injury.
And reading the warrant,
that it's systematic abuse over a period of six years
between 2002 and 2008.
In one particular assault,
it's alleged that he's burnt her with a cigarette stub.
So, that gives you a flavour of the type of violence
that was being, or alleged to have been, used against this lady.
Pete and Jamie scope out the neighbourhood,
trying to work out if the fugitive is in before knocking on the door.
Hello, sorry to trouble you. From the police.
Just need to know who lives at this address. It's probably...
-No speak English.
-No speak English, OK.
Hello, we just need to know who lives at this address.
What's your family name?
Never absolutely certain when you turn up
that people are either going to be in
or indeed that they haven't moved on.
So, it's about approaching it, making an approach,
speaking to the people inside,
and trying to ascertain who does live there.
Sorry to trouble you. OK, thank you. Bye-bye.
The family confirm to Pete that this is the home
of the man they're after.
He's gone to the shops. He'll be back in half an hour.
They've just missed him by a matter of minutes.
The detectives are left with little choice
but to wait and see if he comes back.
She obviously knows the police have been round now.
If he is waiting for the knock on the door
and she knows he's waiting for the knock on the door, for this...
for this matter, some years ago now in Belgium,
then it's likely she's going to call him
and tell him that the police have been to the address.
Hopefully, when we've spoken to her and her sons,
we've been suitably sort of vague, for want of a better description,
to not raise the alarm that we're there to arrest him.
Just as they're about to give up and leave,
a man comes up and knocks on Pete's window.
Let me just park up. We'll come and talk to you, don't worry.
This is our man.
That's how your luck can go.
I tell you what, come and sit in the back of the car.
Jump on there. Have you got some ID, have you?
-I'm Jamie Darby.
I'm a DC from the extradition unit up at New Scotland Yard.
Unfortunately for you,
you're under arrest under a European Arrest Warrant for Belgium,
-for an alleged assault, OK?
-You're not in trouble in the UK.
-No problem here.
But there's a warrant been issued in Belgium
and Belgium have asked us to execute the warrant,
-it's a European Arrest Warrant.
-Yes, but I...
So, you have to go to court in London.
The man protests that his family life is now a happy one.
But that won't wash when he hasn't finished doing time
for the domestic violence offences in his past.
As the officers escort him into his flat to collect his passport,
Pete's French comes in handy.
..laisse un message...
-Tu peux telephoner Charlie dans la voiture.
My phone is going to die.
-He already come back...
-Are you going to leave your phone here?
Il ne va pas a l'ecole demain. Tu l'amenes avec toi.
Don't go to the school tomorrow.
After saying goodbye to his wife and children,
the fugitive is taken into custody.
It sums up what police work can be like.
You know, you think you've missed it.
I was completely prepared to come away from that address,
and, you know, regroup and have a look at it for another day,
and the next thing you know,
he's knocking on the window of the car, offering himself up.
So, it's completely like that, you know.
One day... One day, you get a bit of luck and other days,
you could sit there for hours and he wouldn't come back
and it's just par for the course, really.
For British fugitives on the run,
the Costa Blanca, packed with tourists,
is an ideal place to hide from the law.
In the seaside resort of Calpe, 40 miles north of Alicante,
pubs and cafes welcome British customers with open arms.
In one popular bar, as night fell on a September evening in 2014,
a group of British expats were meeting up for a card game.
One of the players really was using his poker face.
He was trying to ask for another beer.
So, I told him, "This is serious stuff, so stop drinking."
The man gambling with his freedom was cocaine smuggler Robert Knight.
He'd fled to Spain to escape a long stint in a British jail
six years earlier.
Knight was part of an organised gang of smugglers based in Birmingham.
Back in early 2008, West Midlands Police were on their trail.
They knew the criminals had imported two million cigarettes
and large quantities of drugs worth almost £1 million into the UK.
We had intelligence in relation to all the members
of this organised crime group.
He was the one with the contacts,
he was the one facilitating drugs.
Knight and his gang had devised a clever way of getting drugs
past airport security and into the UK.
Cocaine was coming in library books from South America
and I think we recovered seven kilos of cocaine.
The more we investigated,
the more we realised that Rob Knight was the one that was
really making sure that everybody knew what they were doing,
he was making sure that contacts abroad were paid,
and it was massively important to us to find him and arrest him.
Undercover officers spent weeks watching Knight's every move,
photographing him outside the shop used to store his contraband.
Then they seized a shipment of cocaine worth £300,000 at Heathrow.
It was time to make an arrest.
But the move came too late.
We went to his place of work and we must have missed him
by about literally two minutes.
We know that he left literally as a police vehicle was pulling up.
Inside the shop,
they found half a million pounds' worth of illegal tobacco.
We found two million cigarettes.
They were bringing it in floor tiling rolls,
which were hollow in the middle.
But there was no sign of Robert Knight,
the brains behind the huge smuggling racket.
It seemed he could have fled to Spain.
We thought he was in the region of Estepona in Spain.
We knew that he had been seen there by different people
who'd put reports in.
And we knew from previous intelligence
he knew that area and because of the expat community there,
he could fit in there without really showing out.
For five years, Knight evaded capture.
Then in 2013, police appealed for the public's help.
Number seven tonight is Robert Mark Knight.
In Spain too,
a Crimestoppers campaign on the Costas reminded holiday-makers
that the drug and tobacco smuggler
was one of the UK's most wanted fugitives.
But would the new appeal lead to the information
police needed to find him?
It was unfinished business for us.
And we know that every time we'd make inquiries
with his family and friends,
they were literally gloating that you'll never get hold of him,
he's left the country.
And they were sort of proud of the fact that he had avoided justice.
Every November, 26 police forces across the UK
take part in a week-long operation,
aimed at tackling foreign offenders on Britain's roads.
Yeah, that's copied...
Stopping and searching vehicles registered abroad
and checking that foreign workers have the appropriate permits
is part of the work.
Madam, what nationality are you?
But the operation also focuses on tracking down men and women
on the run after committing crimes abroad.
This week, PCs Danny Evans and Karl Lacey are in Worcestershire
and they have a long list of fugitives to find.
First up is Przemyslaw Wojciechowski.
The 33-year-old drug dealer has already been sentenced
to two years in prison back in Poland.
When was the offence?
It's been about seven... It's been a while ago.
How long's he been in the country?
Quite a while.
Just looking at a bit of history
we've got with this gentleman from this warrant,
that we've received from Poland,
the drug supply has been over a year or so, in 2006, 2007,
at least sort of eight to ten separate offences of drug supply
over that period of time, so obviously, that's why the offence
is so severe, that he's been sought after.
The team have an address for the man.
They're aiming to sneak up on it, so he doesn't see them coming.
A plainclothes officer leads them to the right flat.
The drug dealer has a two-year prison sentence
waiting for him back in Poland.
PC Matt Britton is first to approach the door.
-It's the police.
Can we just come and have a quick chat with you?
-It's nothing to worry about.
-Are you here alone today?
-No, with my partner.
-What's your partner's name?
-Przemy, right, is his...?
What's his last name?
Is he here now, is he?
He's at the shop at the moment but he's coming here.
-He's coming back?
-Ah, right. OK.
Wojciechowski does live here but has popped out to the local supermarket.
You know, if this guy wanted to get away from us...
..quite easily, a phone call could have gone in
when Matt and Jim were at the premises, by his partner,
to say, "Don't come back, the police are here."
While Matt waits with Wojciechowski's partner,
Sgt Dean Carswell and the plainclothes police officer set off
towards the supermarket in an attempt to intercept him.
But a chance encounter saves them a journey.
Sir, just have a quick word.
-Is that you?
-Who are you?
-Have you got any ID with you, Damian?
-It's not, that's you, that is.
-That's me, yeah.
Just stand there a second for me.
Have you got anything in your pockets that you shouldn't have?
-Any knives, any weapons?
-Put your hands to the side.
-Let me take your bread off you.
-I'm not going to eat it.
'We were all called round.'
I came round, identified the male from the warrant,
asked him his name, and again,
he was arrested immediately for the warrant.
-He's been searched.
-OK, you're under arrest
under the Extradition Act 2003.
You do not have to say anything
but anything you do say may be given in evidence.
-Can you confirm your name for me?
-Yeah, that's the name.
-Your name, can you tell me, please?
-My missus knows about it, yes?
-OK. So, thank you.
OK, you've got everything you need, sir?
Can I say goodbye to my girlfriend?
That's it? Please?
-Just you wait here. We'll bring her down, OK?
It wasn't until he saw his daughter,
I think it really hit home, didn't it? He got emotional, he got upset.
His time on the run over,
Wojciechowski realises that his failure to face up
to his criminal past now means his family will be left on their own.
It's only right when somebody's getting arrested and possibly
sent back to their country to serve a long sentence
that they're allowed to say goodbye to their loved ones.
-The thing is...
-..it's going to get dealt with now, isn't it?
-You don't have to hide any more.
Wojciechowski's past as a dealer in amphetamines back in Poland
has finally caught up with him.
He's put himself in that situation.
You know, this has happened for a while
and he's known that he could have got it sorted out a long time ago.
The only blessing is maybe that he can get it dealt with now
and before his daughter is old enough to find out what's going on.
Maybe won't remember any of this at all.
One of the UK's most wanted fugitives was notorious cocaine smuggler Robert Knight.
He fled the UK in April 2008,
swapping his life as the mastermind behind a gang of drug smugglers
for a life on the run.
The National Crime Agency joined in the search.
With Rob Knight, we thought
he had quite a lot of links out in Spain.
So, we initially started looking in that area.
He was on the run for a number of years in the end,
which can often be the case.
Even though you secure a European Arrest Warrant,
it doesn't mean we arrest people instantly.
But it doesn't mean we stop looking either.
So, for Rob Knight, he had links to Dubai, to Thailand, to South Africa,
and obviously, every one of those links
has to be looked into and investigated.
But even after all that,
even when we looked with these other countries, considered other options,
it all came back to pointing back towards Spain.
A fresh appeal at home and abroad in 2013 threw up new leads.
We had quite good intelligence as to around a specific location
where you started to get a feeling and suggestions
that he was around the Benidorm area,
that he was perhaps frequenting bars around there
and that his face was known
and we were getting intelligence that he was there.
So, we could obviously start to focus in on that.
So, the process would be once we had an idea of where he was,
we would feed that in to the Spanish
and then they would look to progress the intelligence.
With the European Arrest Warrant now in place,
the Spanish national police's fugitive unit could join the search.
They followed up on information linking Knight to Benidorm,
a popular haunt for Brits on the run.
They come to Benidorm for bars, they play cards here,
just watch football on television, and things like that.
We thought Robert Knight was living here in Benidorm,
so we spent here about two weeks.
We found out that he had been identified by the local police here,
driving a motorcycle.
At that time, he was using a false identity.
Armed with the knowledge that Robert Knight
was using someone else's name,
Olga and her UK colleagues were hopeful of an arrest.
He was on a false passport,
so he may have been able to move around European countries
on that passport.
But the main intelligence that we were getting
was that he was settled in Spain,
that he visited certain bars,
he was happy there because of the expat community
and he fitted in pretty nicely there.
But despite information that Knight had been in Benidorm,
by the time Olga arrived there to arrest him,
he seemed to have disappeared.
Two guys told us, "OK, we recognise him, he was here,
"but he left this place, like, two months ago."
Or something like that.
Picking up the trail again proved difficult.
It took a few months to actually nail down exactly
where we thought he was in Alicante.
But thanks to some excellent work from the Spanish,
they did eventually secure one bar where we became pretty sure
that he frequented there quite regularly.
Olga then received a useful lead
that would help her team spot Knight.
They told us he was riding a bicycle.
It was like a black bicycle with white wheels.
So, it was kind of a weird bicycle.
It's not the normal bicycle.
And back at the National Crime Agency,
officers also received some new information.
An intelligence source in Spain told them that Knight
was now a keen player on the Costa's poker circuit.
The fact that he was playing poker was great.
It gave us an idea that he was on a certain circuit,
that he would be cropping up in potentially certain bars.
But it wasn't just that. It was that once we knew what league
he was playing in, what games he was playing in,
we could work out where he was going to be and at what time.
It was a big breakthrough.
Now police knew about Knight's gaming habits,
it seemed the chips were finally down
for one of the UK's most wanted fugitives.
In south-west London,
DS Pete Rance and DC Jamie Darby have arrested a man
wanted by Belgian police.
-Jump on there. You've got some ID, have you?
He fled the country part way through a prison sentence
-for assaulting his wife.
-You're not in trouble in the UK.
But there's a warrant been issued in Belgium and Belgium have asked us
to execute the warrant, it's a European Arrest Warrant.
-OK, so, listen, so you have to go to court in London.
If Pete doesn't get his man in front of a judge as soon as possible,
the case could be thrown out.
They need to take him to Westminster Magistrates' Court
first thing in the morning
because it's the only court in England and Wales
that deals with extradition requests.
But first, he must be processed at a police station.
Pete takes him to Charing Cross.
Charing Cross is a central London police station.
It works for us because it's very close to the court
where the people that are going to be taken in extradition proceedings.
The police want to take your fingerprints,
photograph and a DNA sample.
OK, once the samples are taken,
they can be used for crime investigation purposes
and to check your identity.
Take your glasses off for me, please? Cheers.
Look straight at the camera. Yeah, yeah.
Jamie and his colleague DC Dave Salmon
check the arrested man into custody.
Thank you very much.
Gathering DNA and adding it to the database
is an important part of the process.
We do this with every extradition prisoner.
It'll be on file
and it can be compared against the database as well,
just in case they've been committing other crimes here.
-Just relax when I roll them, OK? Just relax.
Cooperation between European police forces
and the sharing of this kind of information across borders
is key to tracking down men and women on the run.
My job is to ascertain that he was the person that was wanted.
But as a priority, to make sure that that woman and the children
were safe and free from any potential harm from him now.
And I was happy that we'd done that,
that there was no risk to the kids or to her.
And then it was about arranging for him to go before the court,
so that the extradition proceedings could commence.
The man convicted back in 2009 of domestic violence offences
in Belgium will spend the night in the cells.
He'll appear before a judge in the morning.
In 2014, Olga Lizana, head of the Spanish police's fugitive unit,
was on the hunt for British criminal Robert Knight.
Six years earlier,
he avoided arrest in Birmingham when police closed the net
on his drug-smuggling gang.
The more we investigated,
the more we realised that Rob Knight was the one with the contacts,
he was the one to facilitate the drugs,
and he was the one that sort of glued the whole operation together.
After new appeals and months of painstaking research,
police were close to capturing the fugitive.
There will always be one piece of intelligence
that sort of helps take us over the line.
For us in the case of Robert Knight,
it was the fact that he played poker so much
and that he was so heavily involved in it.
We got some information about the bar, Saffy's Bar in Calpe.
They told us "British people play poker here,"
I think it was every Thursday or something like that.
So, we move over there.
Over the past few months,
Olga had discovered that Robert Knight
was a keen poker player who rode a distinctive bicycle.
We didn't see him getting into the bar.
The first thing we saw was a bicycle outside.
We decided to wait a little bit to see what was going on.
We didn't see any people just getting in or out.
So, we decided to go there and get a drink.
And sure enough, inside the bar,
a poker school was just settling in for the evening.
We have a regular game,
a friendly game of poker on a Thursday,
and we were just getting ready for that, really,
getting all the chips ready and running around for that.
There was a few people in for the bar.
Just normal, really.
We just sat tight.
We were trying to check if Robert Knight was there or not.
At the beginning, we were not sure,
so we were just going in and out to check if it was him or not.
We were pretty sure, so we decided
to get into the bar and ask everybody for their documents.
But even when Olga approached Knight,
he was still trying to call her bluff.
When I asked him for the papers,
he showed me a kind of copy of his passport, but it was not a real one.
I asked him about his name.
And he said the name that was on the passport.
He was not nervous or anything.
Robert Knight seemed confident his change of appearance
and fake passport would do the trick,
even when the odds were stacked against him.
He thought we were just checking the names or anything,
so he moved from the table.
He was asking for another beer, till we just told him,
"OK, we know you are Robert Knight and you are under arrest."
But still, it seemed nothing would rattle the one-time drug smuggler.
He said, "Before you take me, I need to pay me bill."
So, I was happy, because I'm a Yorkshireman.
He had a bike outside, chained up, he says, "You can keep the bike."
I says, "You what?" He says, "You can keep the bike."
I says, "Why?" He says, "I don't think I'll be back."
After six years on the run, Knight was finally captured.
But bizarrely, he didn't seem at all concerned
that his life as a fugitive had come to an end.
There is between
40 and 50 kilometres between Calpe and Alicante,
we were taking him to the police station in Alicante.
And he was sleeping in the car.
To me, it seemed that he was not worried about
the stuff that was going on.
He kept saying at the police station that we were wrong,
"I am another person."
Robert Knight's bluffing bravado didn't last.
UK officers were summoned to Alicante to confirm his identity.
We scrambled pretty quickly to make sure because they were uncertain.
Obviously, he had forged documents on him and his appearance
had changed a great deal.
It felt really good, actually, because when we saw him,
we arrested him and took him on the airport, he was still denying.
Firstly, he was still talking to us that he wasn't Rob Knight
and secondly, he was saying, well, he wasn't on the run.
He made great pains to say, "Nobody told me I was wanted.
"I'd been living out there freely."
In October 2014,
officers escorted the drug dealer back to the UK to stand trial.
He didn't realise how much we actually knew about him.
He didn't realise that we knew how he was writing letters home
and everything else he was doing.
For the NCA, it was a great end to six long years of intelligence work.
The satisfaction of making that phone call
to the officer in the force who's also lived the case with you,
being able to make that phone call and say, "We've got them,
"we've got them arrested, they're in custody,
"they've got the cuffs on them,"
that is the best feeling in the job.
Six years to the day he fled the UK,
in April 2015, Robert Knight was sentenced to 11 years in prison
at Birmingham Crown Court for drug smuggling.
Six months after Met officers arrested the man
with an outstanding prison sentence to serve for domestic violence,
the Belgian authorities decided to withdraw the European Arrest Warrant
they'd issued for him.
And Przemyslaw Wojciechowski
was successfully deported back to Poland in June 2016
to serve the rest of his sentence for supplying drugs.
Robert Knight was part of an organised gang of smugglers based in Birmingham. Back in early 2008, West Midlands Police were on their trail, but once they had seized a shipment of cocaine worth £300,000 at Heathrow, Knight went on the run. Intelligence from the National Crime Agency led to his dramatic arrest in a Spanish bar by Spain's Detective Olga Lizana.
In east London, the Metropolitan Police's Extradition team are on the hunt for a man with a history of domestic violence.
And in Worcerstershire, PCs Danny Evans and Karl Lacey have a long list of fugitives to find. Top of the list is a 33-year-old drug dealer who has already been sentenced to two years in prison back in Poland.