Australia’s most wanted fugitive has been arrested in Turkey in dramatic scenes as part of a massive crackdown aimed at disrupting the Comanchero bikie gang.
Hakan Ayik was one of dozens of underworld figures who were arrested in Istanbul by local police on Thursday morning local time, 13 years after fleeing Australia in 2010.
Ayik, also known as “Big Hux”, became one of the world’s most wanted criminals after the FBI and AFP tracked his global drug empire through encrypted messaging platform AN0M.
The arrest was announced by Ali Yerlikaya, Turkish Interior Minister, in a message on X, formerly Twitter.
In dramatic video of the early morning raids, Ayik can be seen shirtless with his hands behind his back, surrounded by heavily armed officers.
Australia’s most wanted man Hakan Ayik (pictured) was arrested by Turkish police in Istanbul on Thursday.
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The raids also resulted in the arrest of Australian underworld figures Hakan Arif, Baris Tukel and Erkan Dogan and the seizure of an estimated A$250 million.
Mr Yerlikaya said Australian and US authorities had issued an Interpol Red Notice regarding Ayik.
Arif, Tukel and Dogan have also been the subject of red notices from authorities in New Zealand, Australia and the United States respectively.
“Gang leaders, as well as leaders and members of Turkish citizen organizations, as well as members of foreign national organizations, come to our country and continue their criminal activities,” Mr. Yerlikaya’s message reads .
“It was determined that they were trying to launder the proceeds they made from crimes committed in our country.”
Mr. Yerlikaya alleged that Ayik continued to operate international drug trafficking networks from his command post in Turkey, suspected of having links to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel.
Turkish officials believe Ayik facilitated the transportation of drugs from South America to Australia, the Netherlands and Hong Kong via South Korea and South Africa.
An AFP spokesperson confirmed it was aware of Ayik’s arrest and praised Turkish police for their raids.
Hakan Ayik finally arrested, 13 years after fleeing Australia
“The AFP recognizes the Turkish National Police for carrying out one of the most significant operations targeting suspected serious transnational organized criminals, some of whom are accused of trafficking illicit drugs into Australia and around the world,” the statement said .
“Turkey is a regional leader in the global fight against serious transnational organizations.
“The AFP is stationed in Turkey and has observed the determination of the Turkish National Police to disrupt, arrest and charge suspected organized crime figures.
Sources close to federal and state police told the Today’s telegraph that there is little chance Ayik will be extradited to Australia because of his Turkish citizenship.
Sources in the Australian criminal world also told the publication that Ayik did not expect to be sent back to Australia and was instead preparing for a prison stint in Turkey.
Ayik’s wealth is estimated at more than A$800 million as leader of the Comancheros and drug cartel.
Hakan Ayik is said to have become one of the world’s largest drug importers thanks to his leadership role within the biker gang.
Ayik has managed to evade detention in recent years despite the arrests of his close associates in the past 12 months, Mark Buddle and Duax Ngakuru.
Authorities began closing in on the baron after his assets were frozen by Turkish authorities in July.
AFP Deputy Commissioner Nigel Ryan said at the time that Ayik’s detention was of the utmost importance.
“He’s living a high life, he’s fat and rich from drug sales coming into Australia, killing our children,” Assistant Commissioner Ryan said.
The raids resulted in the arrest of dozens of underworld figures and the seizure of an estimated value of 250 million Australian dollars (photo, Turkish police raids).