/ 11 November 2021

Australia’s most wanted caught at the border

Image source: Supplied
Image source: Supplied

The capture of wealthy restaurateur/suspected drug smuggler Mostafa Baluch will go down as “one of the great days,” NSW Police Minister David Elliott said yesterday. He was discovered in the back of a truck heading towards Queensland. Ultimately, authorities believe, he was set to leave the country on a boat to Indonesia and the plan was to get to the Balkans. Baluch breached his bail conditions when he cut off his ankle monitor and took off more than 2 weeks ago triggering one of the largest manhunts the country’s ever seen.

So 2 things to note. First, Baluch is accused of being a significant organised crime figure who had ambitions to take control of Sydney’s cocaine market. He was charged and detained in June over a plot to import 900kg of the stuff from Ecuador, but he was granted bail (an application that police opposed…) and went on the run last month. And second: check out his Hollywood-worthy capture… NSW Police were tipped off that Baluch was planning to cross the NSW-Queensland border in a truck – and that happened at 1am yesterday morning. Queensland Police noticed the truck because the container on the back wasn’t properly secured. An officer knocked on the side, Baluch knocked back thinking it was the drop-off, and he was found hiding in a Merc inside the truck. “Quite shocked” was said to be his reaction…

NSW is seeking his extradition from Queensland this morning. Once back in NSW, he will be detained and then tried. And there’s a discussion happening about why he was out on bail… NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman says he will ask the state’s Bail Act Monitoring Group to review the decision to let Baluch out – one of a “recent spate of contentious bail decisions,” he said. Both the Coalition and Labor say reforms could be needed. As for Baluch, he can subtract $4 million from his personal wealth… He put up a property worth that much as surety, and the government says it will be forfeited to the state.

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