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Monday, December 27, 2010

Cyprus - Bikie paymaster faces extradition

BY: Nick McKenzie
New South Wales

AUTHORITIES have swooped on one of Australia's most wanted men, the alleged drug lord and Comanchero bikie gang financier Hakan Ayik, on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, ending his six months on the run.
He faces extradition to Australia to confront charges connected to the nation's biggest recent organised crime probe, Operation Hoffman.
Mr Ayik had been the subject of a NSW Police and Interpol arrest warrant and was believed to be living on money he had stashed in foreign bank accounts. He narrowly avoided capture at the Greek-Turkish border two months ago, possibly after bribing officials.
Advertisement: Story continues below It is believed his arrest is connected to alleged criminal offences flowing from his previous escape.
Mr Ayik (pictured) is a muscle-bound gym junkie and is well known for recording his activities on social networking sites, earning him the nickname ''the Facebook gangster''.
His return to Australia to face drug-related charges is not guaranteed because Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus has no extradition treaty with Australia and Mr Ayik has dual Australian-Turkish nationality.
A government source said the Attorney-General's department was expected to formally ask Turkish authorities to extradite Mr Ayik to Australia, a process that could take months and be subject to legal challenge.
Mr Ayik was the central target of Operation Hoffman, a landmark investigation led by the Australian Crime Commission co-operating with most state and federal police agencies.
Concluding this year, Hoffman temporarily shut down the local end of an international drug ring with links to the Comanchero outlaw motorcycle club, Chinese triads and corrupt police and prison guards.
The operation also exposed serious corruption on the nation's waterfront, with Mr Ayik's syndicate allegedly forming ties with several maritime industry figures capable of sneaking drug-filled containers through Australian ports.