Australian authorities extradited an alleged international drug kingpin who is accused of trafficking massive amounts of drugs into the country for a criminal cartel.
British-Chinese national Chung Chak Lee was extradited from Bangkok to Melbourne on Saturday.
The 66-year-old has been accused of being a key player in an organised drug cartel labelled 'The Company' or 'Sam Gor' cartel with up to 70 per cent of drugs in Australia allegedly linked to the organisation.
Thai police first arrested the alleged drug kingpin two years ago at his Bangkok apartment after charges were laid in Australia, according to authorities.
Police in more than 20 countries worked to track Lee.
The AFP allege Lee conspired to traffic 40kg of methamphetamine into Australia in five separate quantities over a 12-month period in 2012.
He fronted Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday charged with conspiracy to traffic a commercial quantity of a controlled drug.
The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said in Sydney criminal organisations were importing illicit drugs on an industrial scale.
"These drugs end up in our cities and suburbs. It makes our roads less safe. A motorist affected by drugs is the equivalent of a loaded weapon behind the wheel of a car," he told the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group.
The international intelligence alliance includes members from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States and the UK.
"This is not just happening on highways – this is happening in our sleepy suburbs, where our kids walk to school or ride their bikes on weekends.
"They are indiscriminately killing and maiming law-abiding citizens."
The AFP Assistant Commissioner Krissy Barrett said the arrest of Lee was the result of a commitment to tracking down international criminals who operate overseas in a bid to avoid Australian authorities.
"The Australian Federal Police has an international network of partners committed to pursuing transnational organised crime offenders and bringing them to justice. If you commit an offence, there is nowhere to hide, and the AFP will track you down," she said.
"The extradition of someone we allege to be high on the pecking order of this serious criminal syndicate is a significant milestone for the AFP. It shows that the AFP and its partners remain one step ahead in working tirelessly to keep our community safe."
Lee is expected to return to court later this week.
- by Daniela Pizzirani, news.com.au