Fugitive bikie suspected of setting up industrial-scale meth lab in India
Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker
March 25, 2012
Alleged drug lord Hakan Ayik arrested by Indian authorities in 2010.
ONE of Australia's most wanted crime figures, Comanchero bikie drug supplier Hakan Ayik, is suspected by authorities of setting up a ''super'' drug laboratory in India capable of exporting tonnes of methamphetamine around the world.
The lab was investigated by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Australian and Indian authorities in 2010. The agencies suspect it was designed to facilitate industrial-scale illicit drug production.
It is the second recent example of Australian bikie groups setting up operating hubs in south Asia - where the precursor chemicals needed to make amphetamines can be legally sourced in large quantities - in order to facilitate crime.
Law enforcement officials also believe that one of Melbourne's most notorious organised crime bosses - who is associated with the Black Uhlans outlaw motorcycle gang - has established ties with figures in Pakistan, including a senior government official, as part of plans to conduct drug importations or engage in money laundering.
The links in Pakistan also give associates of the crime figure access to lucrative Pakistani government contracts.
The revelation of the expansion into south Asia of local bikie outfits provides an insight into the increasingly transnational nature of Australian crime groups and the challenges facing police in combating them.
It comes as the Gillard government pushes for uniform anti-bikie laws to be introduced across Australia in a move that is likely to trigger resistance from bikie clubs and civil libertarians.
Last week, Victoria Police acting Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer warned that Australian bikie clubs were expanding aggressively overseas, including in Spain, Thailand and Indonesia.
It is believed the US Drug Enforcement Agency and Indian authorities gathered intelligence revealing that Ayik had travelled in early 2010 to India, where he sought to buy an industrial pharmaceutical factory able to produce half a tonne of methamphetamine every week.
He is also suspected of having sourced from Indian suppliers large amounts of precursor chemicals that could be used to make a multimillion-dollar shipment of methamphetamine.
About the same time as he was preparing to launch his Indian venture, Ayik sent a message on a Korean internet dating site that stated that he had travelled from Hong Kong to India ''on a business trip''.
A source close to the US agency said it was believed that Ayik, 33, was associating with a roving international crew of criminal associates engaged in large-scale drug production and trafficking from India.
Ayik was thought by Indian police and US officials to have plans to move the drugs by boat across Asia and into Australia, where they would have been distributed by the Comancheros and other bikie groups.
By the time Indian authorities swooped on runners for the crime syndicate in August 2010 - arresting six Iranian chemists and a Dutch national - Ayik had fled.
Senior Mumbai police official Yashodhan Wanage told an Indian newspaper six months ago that ''these meth lab busts have proven beyond a doubt that international cartels are operating in India. All the methamphetamine seized has been for export only.''
Ayik, who is on the run overseas, is the subject of an outstanding Australian police arrest warrant over his suspected involvement in the importation into Australia in July 2010 of 220 kilograms of heroin.
The New South Wales police describe him as one of their most wanted suspects.
In his absence, Australian authorities have been quietly moving to seize his assets. Late last year, the NSW Crime Commission went to court to seize Ayik's Harley-Davidson, his apartment in Sydney's Chinatown and his shareholdings in several companies.
Ayik's role in the Indian venture was uncovered during research for a new book on organised crime in Australia, The Sting, which is published by Melbourne University Press.