Sydney man arrested after fleeing while on trial

The AFP today arrested a Sydney man who fled Australia while on trial for his alleged role in importing a precursor that could produce more than two million MDMA tablets.

The man, 46, was deported by Turkish authorities and landed in Darwin this morning, where he was arrested by members of the AFP Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (FAST). He is scheduled to face a Darwin court today, where an application will be made to extradite him to NSW.

It is believed the man allegedly entered Türkiye illegally in mid-2022, and was detected by Turkish authorities trying to exit the country on 14 August 2022 while using a false passport. Turkish authorities detained the man after establishing his identity.

The man failed to appear in court in March 2020 to face a charge of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled precursor, namely 2.8 tonnes of safrole oil. If convicted, he was facing a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Crime, Nigel Ryan, welcomed the independent decision by Turkish authorities to deport the man, and also the assistance FAST investigators received from NSW Police, the NSW Crime Commission, and the Fintel Alliance.

“The AFP will continue to investigate this man’s activities over the past two years, and will not hesitate to lay charges if we have evidence of criminal activity being used to finance his efforts to escape detection,” he said.

“This also highlights the commitment and expertise of the AFP FAST – our investigators only need a few little pieces to start putting together a clearer picture to track down fugitives seeking to hide from answering for their criminal acts.”

The man was originally arrested in September 2011 as part of a joint investigation between the AFP and the then-Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The investigation allegedly found the safrole in containers labelled as hair and cleaning products imported from China in three shipments between April and August 2011.

Investigations led the AFP FAST to suspect the man was allegedly hiding in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic – possibly on the south coast of NSW – before leaving Australia in late June 2022.

The AFP notified Turkish authorities of his potential whereabouts in Türkiye through the AFP’s international network, and they in turn advised the AFP of his detention for using a false travel document to leave Türkiye in August.

NT Police provided tactical and custodial facility support to assist the safe apprehension and detention of this man while in the Northern Territory.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.