Fugitive Comanchero boss Mark Buddle has faced court in Australia six years after fleeing the country over allegations he imported $40 million worth of drugs.
The 37-year-old was arrested by Australian Federal Police in Darwin on Wednesday, after being deported from Turkey a day earlier, and the Northern Territory Local Court granted an order for him to be extradited to Melbourne.
Buddle is accused of importing more than 160kg of cocaine into Melbourne in May last year.
He is facing two charges of importing the cocaine, which was estimated to have a street value of $40 million.
Each count carries a maximum of life imprisonment.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan said Buddle allegedly used the ANOM app, which was set up by authorities to pose as a safe encryption messaging service for organised crime figures on the dark web.
Buddle listened to the court proceedings by telephone hook-up from the NT police station in Palmerston, 20km south of Darwin, over security concerns.
The court heard his extradition to Victoria could be delayed until August 10 so the AFP can make security arrangements for his transfer south before he faces Melbourne Magistrates Court.
Mr Ryan publicly revealed for the first time the existence of a transnational offshore organised crime taskforce, which had targeted Buddle.
"Australians who think they can hide offshore in perceived safe haven ... take this as a warning," he said.
"The AFP will be relentless in pursuing you, we are dedicated and we are focused."
The charges stem from Operation Ironside, which monitored communications on the encrypted network criminals thought was secure but was being monitored by the AFP and the FBI.
More than 250 people have been charged in Australia under the operation.
No charges have been brought in the US, where privacy laws prevented arrests.
Lawyers in South Australia, representing clients charged under Operation Ironside, have recently argued evidence obtained from the encrypted communications should be excluded.
Australian Associated Press
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