Mark Buddle arrested, fronts court in Melbourne

Mark Buddle arrested, fronts court in Melbourne

Court documents show Buddle has also been charged with conspiring – between March 19 and June 3, 2021 – to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

Each offense carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Mark Buddle’s solicitor Stephen Zahr outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday.Credit:Nine News

The court documents also reveal Melbourne magistrate Julie Grainger granted investigators a warrant to arrest Buddle on July 23.

He’d arrived in Melbourne early on Friday on a chartered flight from Darwin, flanked by AFP officers, after a court approved his extradition from the Northern Territory.

The 37-year-old had been living abroad for six years after leaving Australia for Turkey, and then northern Cyprus, in 2016.

Following the cocaine seizure in 2021, federal authorities issued a global arrest alert. Buddle was apprehended by Turkish authorities in June and held in Ankara before being deported back to Australia this week.

Buddle arrives back in Melbourne.

Buddle arrives back in Melbourne.Credit:AFP

Australian investigators will allege Buddle was involved in a transnational criminal syndicate operating out of Hong Kong and Turkey, that saw 160 kilograms of cocaine – with an estimated street value of $40 million – imported to Melbourne but then seized by authorities.

On Tuesday, the AFP revealed federal investigators began preparing for Buddle’s arrest in October 2021 before Interpol issued a red notice – a global alert – for his capture.

His extradition came months after five people were arrested in connection to the importation, which was concealed in a shipment of air filters. Those five included the alleged co-ordinator of the crime syndicate, a 42-year-old Sydney man, and four Victorians.

The Sydney man was charged with importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs. Three Melbourne men were also remanded on allegations they played a role in the collection and distribution of the cocaine shipment.

Magistrate Kieran Gilligan ordered Buddle return to Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on November 25 via video link.

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