Sixteen powerful international drug lords are responsible for bringing in the bulk of all cocaine, heroin and ecstasy into Australia, the AFP believe.
These organised crime kingpins are mostly based offshore and have vast networks of distributors, shell companies and muscle to help them ship huge amounts of illicit drugs into Australia, and then funnel billions of dollars worth of cash back out.
Most of them also operate sophisticated legitimate businesses to throw off authorities and hide their dark underworld dealings, police say.
Some appear as successful property developers, brokers, telecommunications specialists, logistic freighters, restaurateurs, car salesmen and casino operators.
But the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission can see through the façade and have been piecing together who the major players in the drug game are.
Two of the men ACIC consider Australian Priority Organisation Targets are Hakan Arif (left) and ‘The Facebook Gangster’ Hakan Ayik (right)
There are just 16 international drug lords responsible for bringing in the bulk of all cocaine, heroin and ecstasy into Australia. Pictured: Australian Border Force patrol Sydney Harbour
WHO ARE THE 16 ALLEGED COCAINE CRIME BOSSES?
1. Hakan Ayik – Turkey
2. Hakan Arif – Turkey
3. Mark Buddle – UAE
4. Angelo Pandeli – UAE
5. Mouhammed Bousaleh – Lebanon
6. An unidentified businessman who specialises in money laundering – UAE
7. Michael Tu – Hong Kong
8. An unidentified associate of Tu – Hong Kong
9. Unidentified party drug supplier – Netherlands
10. Unidentified party drug supplier – Netherlands
11. Unidentified drug baron – Europe
12. Unidentified drug baron – Europe
13. Unidentified ‘logistics middle man’ – Cambodia and Pakistan
14. Unidentified man – Adelaide
15. Unidentified man – Sydney
16. Unidentified man – Sydney
‘On the face of it, these men control or are involved in the bulk of the drugs trafficked to Australia, most are based offshore, living overseas, and know we’ll pick them up if they come back here,’ a law enforcement source told the Daily Telegraph.
‘But they are the focus, they are steering the supply here and becoming very rich from it and living lavish lifestyles.
‘Laughably, their biggest problem is they have so much money here (Australia) they are struggling to move it out and are constantly looking for new ways to do it.’
Two of the men ACIC consider Australian Priority Organisation Targets are Hakan Arif and ‘The Facebook Gangster’ Hakan Ayik.
Both are believed to be living in Turkey and were at the centre of the AN0M raids carried out about two weeks ago.
Australian Authorities sensationally carried out the country’s biggest ever organised crime bust on June 8, announcing that 224 people had been arrested as a result of an elaborate sting using technology designed by the FBI.
Some of Australia’s most sinister criminal networks began using ‘AN0M’ branded phones and encrypted messaging almost three years ago, not realising the Federal Police were using the platform to read their messages.
Ayik, who pushed other criminals to use the fake encrypted technology, is now believed to be in immense danger due to the threat of reprisals, but so far he remains on the run.
Another name that came up in the embarrassing AN0M saga was exiled Comancheros boss Mark Buddle who recently lived in the United Arab Emirates.
He is understood to have fled for Iraq in the days before Australia’s AN0M sting.
Angelo Pandeli, a former US Hells Angels boss, now also living in Dubai, is also on the list.
Among the men on the radar of Australian authorities are suspected drug traffickers Mouhammed Bousaleh (left) and Michael Tu (right)
Federal Police alleged they are behind under the radar ‘black flight’ drug runs into Australia.
Buddle fled Australia in 2016 after being linked to the shooting of a security guard and the murder of a rival, and is now suspected to have gone to Iraq.
A court once heard police claims that he bragged to them about killing people by burying them alive.
An unidentified fourth suspect is believed to be a businessman who helps the group launder their vast illegal wealth.
Former national president of the Comancheros bikie gang, Mark Buddle, is alleged to be a member of the ‘Aussie Cartel’
Mafia figures and bikies purchased AN0M-branded phones with encrypted messaging technology already downloaded. When criminals used the phones, the messages were intercepted by Australian Federal Police law enforcement agencies
In Asia, Triad-linked Michael Tu is alleged to run a massive drug importation from Hong Kong.
He is alleged to wash his massive fortunes through China’s global infrastructure plan, the Belt and Road Initiative.
Tu is believed to have a close associate acting as a middleman that is also among the 16 APOTs.
Pictured: Hakan Arif
Another alleged associate of Buddle and Tu who is also on the notorious list of 16, is Mouhammed Bousaleh – a Western Sydney man now living between the UAE and Lebanon – is suspected of involvement in dug shipping.
Two other unknown drug barons bringing party drugs into Australia operate out of the Netherlands in Europe.
One was even jailed over a record 4.4 tonne seizure of ecstasy in Melbourne in 2007, but he has since been released and is now thought to be working with associates in the Calabrian mafia.
Two other mysterious figures working for a well-known crime syndicate also operate out of various cities in Europe.
Another APOTs runs their operations from Cambodia and Pakistan acting as a ‘logistics middle man’.
One man with close ties to notorious Sydney drug distributors operates in Lebanon.
There are only three key players in Australia’s drug importation market actually living Down Under.
One is based in Adelaide and has links to outlaw motorcycle gangs and Caribbean tax havens and the other two are in Sydney – but little is known about their role in the drug trade.
Turkey-based Australian Hayan Ayik is considered a founding member of the Aussie Cartel