Never before seen photos have been revealed of freshly detained Comanchero bikie boss Mark Buddle.
A photo from 1999 shows Buddle long before he became the Commander of the motorcycle gang, standing with a full head of hair in the back row of his Year 9 class at JJ Cahill Memorial High School in Mascot.
The pictures, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, come after Buddle – considered by many to be Australia’s most wanted man – was extradited from Turkey this week and arrested.
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Australian Federal Police confirmed on Wednesday it had “arrested a man, 37, for allegedly importing more than 160kg of cocaine into Melbourne in May, 2021”.
He is facing two charges for allegedly importing cocaine that had a street value of $40 million.
The charges, one count of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and one count of conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, each carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The AFP will allege Buddle was linked to a transnational criminal syndicate operating out of Asia and Europe, where he sent encrypted communications to co-ordinate the shipment of the cocaine from Hong Kong to Melbourne via Sydney.
Photos of the 37-year-old’s arrest on Wednesday show a very different looking man to the young boy seen in the 1999 school pictures.
Under the cover of darkness on Thursday night, Buddle was extradited from Darwin to Melbourne.
He was escorted on a chartered flight by police officers wearing balaclavas. His hands were cuffed and attached to his waist.
When his case was mentioned in Darwin on Wednesday, Buddle appeared by telephone from a cell in a police station surrounded by officers.
It is believed the decision was made due to fears his underworld contacts could attempt to bust him out.
Veteran Darwin lawyer Robert Welfare showed up to court to represent him, with a white beard, sunglasses and a half tucked-in shirt.
Buddle is expected to face Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning.
Mark Buddle’s arrest
Buddle left Australia in 2016 after being considered a person of interest in the murder of security guard Gary Allibon in Sydney.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan said this week Turkish authorities had made “an independent decision” to deport the man.
Mr Ryan said the arrest was a warning to others who thought they could live offshore in “perceived safe havens”.
“When it comes to this alleged offender, we have been patient and thorough, and we have done what the AFP does best – we have used our capability, intelligence and international networks to ensure we have a warrant and a finalised brief of evidence so the alleged offender can face the justice system,” he said.
“This alleged offender has been a target of the AFP-led Transnational Offshore Disruption Taskforce, known as Operation Gain, since 2021.
“This is the first time the AFP has publicly revealed the existence of this taskforce, which targets Australia’s biggest organised crime threats offshore, disrupts their criminal activities and ultimately ensures these alleged criminals face prosecution.”
Mr Ryan said he was aware of the reports Buddle’s former partner Mel Ter Wisscha was being detained in Turkey but said the AFP would “not be following up” and had “no investigation in relation to the matter”.