Australian bikie gangs have been crippled by almost 100 arrests stemming from the Trojan horse encryped messaging app AN0M.
Alleged bikies and associates make up one third of the hundreds of arrests made under Operation Ironside, a long-term covert investigation into organised crime allegedly responsible for huge drug imports.
The app was created by police and spread to criminals, then millions of messages were intercepted and used to make arrests in Australia’s biggest ever sting.
Of the 303 arrests across Australia so far, 99 were former alleged bikies and associates.
Hakan Ayik (pictured) remains on the run from authorities, It’s alleged the fugitive unwittingly gave police direct access to the criminal underworld by encouraging his colleagues to use the encrypted AN0M messaging app
The hardest hit gang were the Comancheros with 76 arrests – three quarters of the alleged criminals rounded up from AN0M intercepts.
Another nine were allegedly linked to the Rebels, eight to the Lone Wolf gang, and a handful linked to the Mongols, Finks, and Bandidos, News Corp reported.
More charges are expected to be laid as Australian Federal Police work their way through the 25 million messages intercepted by the encrypted app.
The police sting has ‘significantly impacted’ the Comancheros and their business model as alleged club figures Mark Buddle and alleged drug kingpin Hakan Ayik remain on the run from authorities overseas.
‘This comes from the number of significant arrests. There’s obviously a lot more work to do, there’s still a lot offshore who we’re looking at as well,’ National Anti-Gangs Squad, Detective Superintendent Jason McArthur, said.
‘There will be people out there who think they’re okay, because they weren’t on the AN0M platform. But they’re not okay. We are still coming.’
Buddle was last known to be in Iraq and Ayik is believed to be still living in Turkey and is hiding from underworld figures after he was outed as one of the ‘influencers’ who unwittingly spread the AN0M encrypted device.
Ayik, 42, is said to have unwittingly given police direct access to the criminal underworld by encouraging his colleagues to use the app.
He is Australia’s most wanted man after fleeing Sydney for Turkey more than a decade ago when he was linked to a $230 million heroin importation syndicate.
Former Comanchero bikie gang chief Mark Buddle also remains in the run from authorities, last known to be hiding in Iraq
‘I can’t comment on what’s happening overseas at the moment, but I think I could probably assure everyone that the AFP and its partners are definitely exploiting the Ironside information, and the networks that we’ve identified, and we’re actively targeting some of these Comanchero members offshore,’ Superintendent McArthur said.
The arrests include three sergeants-at-arms, a club president, and other office bearers.
Police seized huge cash and drug stashes, and alleged bikies now owe other dangerous crime figures significant amounts of money.
Police will allege bikie gangs bought a share of drug importations for more than $1 million alongside other criminal groups.
They claim to have disrupted those planned importations.
‘The cash that we’ve seized, which they now owe debts on, the drugs that have been seized which they now owe debts on,’ Superintendent McArthur said.
Operation Ironside officers (pictured during a raid ) have made 303 arrests in recent months. A third of those arrests are
More arrests are expected to be laid as police work their way through the 25 million messages intercepted via encrypted app AN0M
Operation Ironside, started in 2018 with a fake encrypted communication app developed in partnership with the FBI.
Alleged criminals were tricked into sending messages to their criminal associates around the world via the encrypted messaging app, ‘AN0M’.
They were unaware it was run by FBI agents and the Australian Federal Police who could read their every word.
Throughout the covert operation, detectives allegedly uncovered murder plots, gun distribution, and mass drug trafficking, with mafia bosses, bikies, and reality TV stars arrested and charged.
Australian, US, and European authorities carried out raids across the world in June, with 4,000 cops in Australia arresting 224 accused organised crime figures and seizing tonnes of drugs, millions in cash, and other contraband and luxury goods.
Police are gearing up to arrest a ‘significant number’ of people in the coming months.
‘I expect a significant number of alleged criminals to be arrested over the coming months,’ Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw recently told a Senate estimates hearing.
Comancheros sergeant-at-arms of the NSW South Coast Emmanuel Vamvoukaks (pictured) is among 76 alleged Comancheros bikies arrested as part of Operation Ironside
Operation Ironside bikie charges
Hayden Burber, 33, alleged treasurer of the South Australian Comanchero
Apostle Broikos, 19, from Burnside, SA
Goran Mazibrada, 43, SA
Dominic Fernando Franze, 23, SA
Danny Ralpley, 43, SA
Christian Taumoefolau, 31, alleged Sergeant-at-Arms of the Victorian Comanchero
Tevita Ofahengaue, 21, Victoria
Eren Kaya, 28, alleged Sergeant-at-Arms from Victoria
Muhammed Topal,25, Victorian-based brother of high-ranking Comanchero figure Hasan Topal
George Afeaki, 26, Victoria
Falgofie Tufuga, 24, Victoria
Patrick O’Kelly, 31, Victoria
Joshua Brennan, 30, Victoria
Emmanuel Vamvoukais, 40, alleged sergeant-at-arms of the NSW South Coast
Luke Jolly-Bishop, 27, Victoria
Luke Andreou, 31, NSW
Daniel Eahab Jaafar, 40, NSW
James Bouzianis, 48, NSW
Maher Aouli, 40, NSW
Yusif Ayik, 20, NSW
Julian Lee, 41 NSW
George Kamvissis, 30 Victoria
Talja Arslan, 23, Victoria
Chihat Yilmaz, 24, Victoria
Soner Akkus, 30, Victoria
Elias Elchaar, 49, alleged national sergeant-at-arms of the Lone Wolf gang
Brian Anthony Blackman, 51, NSW
Edward George ‘Etu’ Lavulo, 32, NSW
Judah Earl Lavulo, 30
Jason Howlett-Elliott, 40, SA
Robert Leigh Marshall, 31, SA
Benjamin Joseph Thornton, 21, Queensland
Senad Catic, 34