Why Australia's most wanted man will NEVER hand himself in
Authorities sensationally carried out Australia’s biggest ever organised crime bust on Tuesday
The risk of Ayik being taken out in revenge attacks was real, Prof Lauchs said, because he operated in an environment where there is no ‘objective, independent arbiter’ to resolve disputes.
‘You’ve got to see them operating much more like the Real Housewives television show than a group of barristers sitting around discussing a case,’ Prof Lauchs said.
‘Any secretive group like this is full of conspiracy theorists, they’re constantly at each other. There is paranoia.
‘Hakan Ayik isn’t going to put on his social media, “I’m having a fight with one of the organised crime groups and I need someone to sort it out”. He’ll have to sort it out himself.’
David Bright, a professor in Criminology at Flinders University and expert in organised crime, said the most significant factor in whether he will face payback is the undermining of trust the police operation had created.
‘Ayik is a broker between groups and we know individuals in those sorts of positions are very influential and very powerful, but they are also usually highly trusted because they’re negotiating between groups who are in competition one way or another,’ Prof Bright said.
‘What the Operation had cleverly done is undermine trust within these groups, and that’s probably the most important component of the criminal underworld… it’s all they’ve got to rely on.
‘When that trust is undermined in a significant way that’s when there’s an increased risk of violence and retribution.’
Australia’s most wanted Hakan Ayik (centre) was influential in spreading the AN0M app through his criminal networks, it has been claimed
Ayik and his wife Fleur Messelink at their wedding
Professor Janet Ransley, Director of Griffith University’s Criminology Institute, agreed Ayik and others would be worried about retribution but saw this as a downside of the operation.
‘We’re focusing on the success of the crime control operation, which is great – I’m not downplaying the risk organised crime poses to Australians – but there are also downsides to the technique.
‘One is that some people may be exposed to payback or retribution, the other is that it’s a virtual entrapment exercise. That comes with risks to the legitimacy of law enforcement, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in court proceedings.’
Whether family members of Ayik and others still living in Australia were in danger was unclear, said the crime experts, who said the ‘ethics’ of the criminal underworld may prevent them being targeted.
‘There was a story of one Mafioso in Sicily who’d rolled over to the police and they started knocking off one family member after another until he finally came out of hiding,’ Prof Lauchs recalled. ‘They’d killed 35 of his family members before he showed up.
‘In Australia if they were doing drive-bys and even endangering, let alone killing, family members, most of them would be like, “no way, you can’t do that”. Whereas overseas, they’re dealing with a much more ruthless environment.
A tactical police officer guards a handcuffed arrested man during a raid. He was one of 224 people arrested as part of Operation Ironside
‘The men who are involved in this activity have certain principles and ethics,’ Prof Bright said.
‘One of those is that you don’t mess with people’s families, and means the likelihood of [families being targeted] is low, but not zero.
‘I think we’re in new territory and don’t yet know the answer to what will happen.’
Prof Goldsworthy thought those who cooperated with Operation Ironside in return for reduced jail time were in most danger.
‘We saw mention in the FBI affidavits of use of a confidential human source (CHS),’ he said.
‘The CHS would be someone who is now going to be in need of long-term protection, given the impact this operation is having on organised crime.’
Police raid a property in Melbourne’s Sydenham over a $1billion drug importation plot
The raid allegedly uncovered a loaded firearm and $30,000 cash hidden inside a bathroom wall
Texts released after Australia’s biggest underworld bust show crime bosses were so convinced their communications were secret on the police-devised ‘AN0M’ app, they brazenly discussed huge shipments of drugs.
Australian, U.S., and European authorities carried out raids across the world on Tuesday, with 4,000 cops in Australia arresting 224 accused organised crime figures and seizing tonnes of drugs, millions in cash and other contraband and luxury goods in Operation Ironside.
Ayik’s former mate and ex-Comancheros bikie leader Mark Buddle, who was last said to be in Iraq, was also considered to have had his criminal enterprises smashed by the raids.
‘He would have been on the network and a lot of his dealings would have been captured,’ a senior unnamed NSW police officer said about Buddle to the Daily Telegraph.
Ayik’s former mate and ex-Comancheros bikie leader Mark Buddle
So convinced were criminals they that the encrypted messages were beyond the reach of law enforcement that they openly organised and discussed criminal activities.
For instance, two Australian associates discussing a cocaine smuggling operation on January 4, 2020 exchanged the following messages:
‘Think he got it in,’ one told the other, before the second responded: ‘You’re dreaming. You reckon. What he offer it to you for’.
The first person then sent a photo of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine with batman stickers on the packaging.
Two months later, on March 23 last year, an Australian user and an unknown person exchanged messages about the price of cocaine.
‘Ok sweet, I got a small job that popped up for the building block. There is 2kg put inside the French diplomatic sealed envelopes out of Bogota (Colombia),’ the third Australian wrote.
The message continued, saying the Colombian distributors would take 50 per cent of the profit while four others would split the remaining half.
The same Australian then informed the unknown person that the drug drop could happen weekly, before sending three photos of cocaine and French diplomatic pouches.
While surveillance of the ‘AN0M’ communication platform culminated in Tuesday’s raids, it had led to the arrest of more than 220 Australian organised crime figures going back to 2018.
Offenders are linked variously to the Australian-based Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian crime syndicates and Albanian organised crime.
The communications found on the platform revealed 21 murder plots, gun distribution activity and mass drug trafficking, Australian Federal Police say.
The AFP also said on Tuesday it had seized 3.7 tonnes of drugs, more than 100 weapons and almost $45 million in cash as part of the operation since 2018.
‘We allege they are members of outlaw motorcycle gangs, Australian Mafia, Asian crime syndicates and serious and organised crime groups. We allege they’ve been trafficking illicit drugs into Australia at an industrial scale,’ Commissioner Kershaw said.
The app became popular among organised crime figures as it was spruiked by their colleagues. Pictured: excerpts of messages between an Australian and an unknown associate
‘Australian law enforcement has been arresting and charging alleged offenders and we have prevented tonnes of drugs from coming onshore.
‘We’ve arrested the alleged kingmakers behind these crimes, prevented mass shootings in suburbs, frustrated organised crime by seizing ill-gotten wealth.
‘We have been in the back pockets of organised crime.’
Details of the communications come after new footage from the most audacious law enforcement operation in Australian history was revealed, showing heavily-armed police kicking in doors, cutting through barriers and scaling high-rise apartments.
In a Melbourne court on Tuesday it was revealed how the operation stopped over $1billion of ice and cocaine being smuggled into Australia.
Ninja Warrior 2017 contestant Sopiea Kong was among those arrested. The 33-year-old was charged last week following a raid at a Kangaroo Point home, where police allegedly seized 154g of meth