It said the investigation included alleged offenders accused of illicit drug trafficking to Australia and around the world.
“Turkiye is a regional leader in the global fight against transnational serious organised crime. The AFP is posted in Türkiye and has witnessed the Turkish National Police’s determination in disrupting, arresting and charging alleged organised crime figures,” a spokesman said.
“The AFP has provided support to the Turkish National Police through Operation Gain and the AFP’s Post in Ankara.”
The Herald and The Age revealed Ayik was living in Istanbul in 2021, exposing his suspected role as the founder of the “Aussie Cartel” of organised crime figures wielding major influence over drug importation into Australia.
Australia’s peak criminal intelligence agency has previously estimated the cartel earned around $1.5 billion a year by allegedly smuggling drugs past the nation’s borders, assisted by corrupt government officials and border insiders.
Ayik fled Australia in 2010 and renounced his citizenship in 2019. In 2021, he was duped into the AFP and FBI led “An0m” operation, which used intelligence from a compromised encrypted communications app relied on by senior underworld figures.
The ambitious global law enforcement operation led by the AFP and FBI triggered mass arrests around the world by using an encrypted service developed to covertly monitor a vast trove of communications about the global drug trade and other illegal activities.
Known as An0m, the service acted as an alternative to the Ciphr network and others that had been favoured by criminals worldwide.
After covertly taking control of An0m when it was developed, agencies turned the Istanbul-based man into a top promoter and distributor of the platform that ultimately ensnared hundreds of alleged Australian criminals.
Turkey’s Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on X, formerly Twitter, that the detentions happened in Istanbul, and the suspected crime ring was allegedly involved in international drug trafficking and money laundering.
He announced the raids with a statement posted alongside a slick video showing drone footage of the arrests.
According to an English translation of his statement, the minister claimed the arrested men were “trying to launder the income they [allegedly] obtained from [suspected] crimes in our country”.
Others crime suspects arrested in the raids included Duax Hohepa Ngakuru, Baris Tukel, Erkan Yusuf Dogan, Jimmy Avaijan, Sibel Arif and Alp Ozturk.
Ayik has been in the sights of Australian police since 2000 when they began watching him as a suspected local drug trafficker in Sydney’s working class southern suburbs. By 2008, he was the owner of two watches worth half a million dollars, as well as karaoke bars and brothels in Sydney and Canberra.
He was also on the radar of federal and state policing agencies for his suspected involvement in a series of drug importations worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
He is alleged to be linked to major drug shipments to Australian including a 2014 import of 1.9 tonnes of MDMA and 850 kilograms of methamphetamine worth an estimated $1.6 billion.
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