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Most wanted: Comanchero bikie leader Mark Buddle arrested following extradition

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Aug 2022, 3:05pm
Comanchero boss Mark Buddle has been arrested on Australian soil. Photo / Australian Federal Police via news.com.au
Comanchero boss Mark Buddle has been arrested on Australian soil. Photo / Australian Federal Police via news.com.au

Most wanted: Comanchero bikie leader Mark Buddle arrested following extradition

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Aug 2022, 3:05pm

Australia's most wanted bikie Mark Buddle has been arrested on Australian soil after he was extradited from Turkey.

The Comanchero bikie boss was in the custody of Australian Federal Police after touching down in Darwin on Wednesday.

It comes after he was arrested in North Cyprus as part of a raid last month.

The AFP confirmed it had "arrested a man, 37, for allegedly importing more than 160kg of cocaine into Melbourne in May 2021".

AFP Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan said Turkish authorities had made "an independent decision" to deport the man.

Buddle is on Wednesday scheduled to appear in a Darwin court, where the AFP will apply to have him extradited to Victoria.

He is facing two charges for allegedly importing cocaine that had a street value of AUD$40m.

The charges, one count of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and one count of conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, each carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The AFP will allege Buddle was linked to a transnational criminal syndicate operating out of Asia and Europe, where he sent encrypted communications to co-ordinate the shipment of the cocaine from Hong Kong to Melbourne via Sydney.

The AFP alleges it identified Buddle in mid-2021 before working with the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions to seek an arrest warrant and make charges.

In mid-July 2022, a Melbourne Magistrates Court issued an arrest warrant for Buddle in relation to the alleged cocaine importation, followed by an Interpol red notice later in the month.

Police will allege he was using the ANOM app.

Ryan said the arrest was a warning to others who thought they could live offshore in "perceived safe havens".

"When it comes to this alleged offender, we have been patient and thorough, and we have done what the AFP does best – we have used our capability, intelligence and international networks to ensure we have a warrant and a finalised brief of evidence so the alleged offender can face the justice system," he said.

"This alleged offender has been a target of the AFP-led Transnational Offshore Disruption Taskforce, known as Operation Gain, since 2021.

"This is the first time the AFP has publicly revealed the existence of this taskforce, which targets Australia's biggest organised crime threats offshore, disrupts their criminal activities and ultimately ensures these alleged criminals face prosecution."

Mr Ryan said he was aware of the reports Buddle's former partner Mel Ter Wisscha was being detained in Turkey but said the AFP would "not be following up" and had "no investigation in relation to the matter".

Buddle left Australia in 2016 after being considered a person of interest in the murder of security guard Gary Allibon in Sydney.

The 59-year-old was shot during an armed robbery on Sussex St in the CBD in 2010.

The AFP confirmed Buddle had been living offshore since February 1, 2016.

They alleged this was to avoid the scrutiny of Australian law enforcement.

- Hamish Spence, news.com.au