Comanchero boss Mark Buddle in Australian custody over alleged $40 million cocaine import

Comanchero boss Mark Buddle in Australian custody over alleged $40 million cocaine import

Comanchero boss Mark Buddle is in Australian custody, after being deported by Turkish authorities.

The 37-year-old faced court in Darwin this morning, accused of importing more than 160 kilograms of cocaine into Melbourne in May 2021.

The judge granted a request for him to be extradited to Victoria.

The court heard Mr Buddle did not appear in person due to security concerns from police, and instead appeared via an audio link.

“Normally, of course, someone appearing in court would be either present in court or on the video from the prison, Chief Judge Elizabeth Morris told Mr Buddle.

“But the court’s received information that the police have some security concerns, and that’s why you’re on the telephone from the Palmerston watch house.”

Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan said the drugs had a street value of more than $40 million.

Mark Buddle was escorted on a charter flight to Darwin. (Supplied: AFP)

Commonwealth lawyer Naomi Low told the court police wanted until August 10 to extradite Mr Buddle to the Melbourne Magistrates Court, to make arrangements to mitigate security concerns.

“Mark Buddle is to be secured and kept in custody in NT Corrections until no later than the tenth of August, 2022, by which time he is to be transferred into the custody of [the AFP] … to then appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on or before the tenth of August 2022,” Chief Justice Morris said.

She told Mr Buddle he would be kept in prison until arrangements were made to transfer him to Melbourne in the custody of police.

Mr Buddle was deported to Turkey from Northern Cyprus last month, and taken into police custody in the capital, Ankara.

He had been living in the self-declared republic after being granted a residence permit in August 2021.

Bikes gather for Legalize Freedom ride
Mark Buddle became president of the Comanchero Outlaw Motorcycle Gang in 2010.(Dean Lewins, file photo: AAP)

Taskforce targeting offshore organized crime threats

Assistant Commissioner Ryan said the AFP had been working to “build a brief of evidence” against Mr Buddle since mid-2021.

“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 finalized brief of evidence so the alleged offender can face the justice system,” he said.

“However, let me be clear: this alleged offender has been a target of the AFP-led Transnational Offshore Disruption Taskforce, known as Operation Gain, since 2021.

“[The taskforce] targets Australia’s biggest organized crime threats offshore, disrupts their criminal activities and ultimately ensures these alleged criminals face prosecution.”

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