An exclusive story by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes aired last night, revealing how some of Australia’s most dangerous crime bosses have organised themselves into a cartel earning an estimated $1.5 billion a year by smuggling drugs past the nation’s border with the help of corrupt government officials and border insiders.
This intel comes from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission which says nine Australian men, drawn mostly from Australian bikie gangs and Middle Eastern crime syndicates, make up what the agency has named the “Aussie cartel.”
The CEO of the Commission, Michael Phelan, told the media outlets that the cartel’s members are “the baddest of the bad” and estimated they were responsible for “about one-third of the drug importations into our country.”
The nine crime bosses have also developed extensive methods of penetrating border security, known as “doors,” giving them an unrivalled capacity to meet Australia’s market for drugs, Mr Phelan said.
“They share supply routes, they share logistic supply chains. They share among themselves the doors or the way into Australia. They share any corrupt networks they may have here to swap information to each other,” Mr Phelan said in the interview.
While Mr Phelan declined to identify the members of the cartel, state and federal policing agency sources told the media outlets they include: Comanchero boss Mark Buddle (who lives in the United Arab Emirates), Hells Angels boss Angelo Pandeli (in Greece and UAE), Triad-linked figure Michael Tu (Hong Kong), Mohamad Bousaleh (Dubai), George Dib (Lebanon) and Hakan Arif (Turkey). An Adelaide bikie boss recently deported from Singapore and a Sydney logistics, port and transportation expert are also cartel members.
Some official sources have confirmed that two members of the cartel in particular are believed to have government insiders in Australia and overseas in their networks.
The cartel’s founding member and Australia’s most wanted priority target is Hakan Ayik, whom The Age, the Herald and 60 Minutes tracked down to Turkey, where he lives under a new name, Hakan Reis.
Ayik is suspected of co-operating with Pandeli and Buddle, formerly warring bikies who are now working together as part of the cartel to arrange importations, including a $1 billion methamphetamine shipment into Western Australia in 2017 and a January 2020 importation into Melbourne.
Why is the Commission seeking to find these cartel members now more than ever before?
“At this particular point in time, Australia is facing a very serious threat from [offshore] serious and organised crime,” Mr Phelan said.
“I don’t care about playing fair either… Absolutely, we’re hunting them and we make no apology for that.”
Source: Sydney Morning Herald.