Accused drug lord Mostafa Baluch’s brief stint as a fugitive is over – he is back in handcuffs, under police guard and being flown back to Sydney.
Baluch’s desperate bid for freedom ended when he was found hiding in a grey Mercedes concealed in a shipping container being transported on the back of a truck.
He had been on the run from police when nabbed during a botched bid to cross the Queensland border on Wednesday morning.
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Sixteen days earlier, he cut off an ankle monitor while on bail and sparked “one of the largest fugitive hunts in the country”.
Police allege he was planning to flee overseas from Queensland.
Queensland officers searched dozens of trucks over the past few days, zeroing in on the transport after noticing the container wasn’t properly secured.
After a night in the Southport Watchhouse, Baluch’s extradition hearing was held on Thursday.
Unvaccinated for COVID-19, Baluch remained in isolation and unable to appear in court so listened to the proceedings by phone.
Lawyer Nicholas Andrews consented to the extradition application without objection.
Baluch finally left the Southport watchhouse around 1pm under heavy police guard for his long-awaited return to NSW.
He was escorted to Coolangatta Airport and flown by PolAir6 – a Cessna Grand Caravan – to Bankstown Airport.
Baluch will be transferred to the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre where he will face further charges by Organised Crime Squad detectives.
He is expected to face Sydney’s Central Local Court on Friday.
The accused kingpin was last seen in Bayview on Sydney’s northern beaches on October 25, days after being granted bail.
He was released on strict conditions, including $4 million surety on his waterfront home at Bayview.
Baluch is charged with a string of drug offences related to a 900kg shipment of cocaine into Australia that had a street value of $270 million but will also face charges over his breach of bail.
The man who was driving the truck in which Baluch was found – who police say owns a transport company – was also arrested.
The 46-year-old has been charged with doing an act intended to pervert the course of justice and denied bail.
© AAP 2021