Turkish-Australian ‘drug kingpin’ unwittingly helps global sting on organised crime

A Turkish-Australian man wanted by authorities in Australia on charges of heroin trafficking has unknowingly helped the FBI with the arrest of hundreds of criminals through the use of an encrypted messaging app, BBC reported on Tuesday.

Fourty-two-year-old Hakan Ayık, who has been a fugitive for a decade, was given access by undercover agents to a handset he in turn recommended to other criminal associates, according to BBC.

The crime boss, who has remained on Australia's Most Wanted lists since 2010, was able to successfully distribute the platform, BBC said, allowing law enforcement agencies who collaborated in the international investigation leading to hundreds of arrests across 18 countries on Tuesday.

Installed on specially modified phones, Anom was trusted an “encrypted” platform by up to 12,500 crime figures globally in managing illicit drug trafficking, money laundering and other serious and violent crimes.

Earlier this week, Austrian media outlets reported that Ayık was living a life of luxury in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Sydney-raised fugitive is not yet in police custody.

Australian police want Ayık to turn himself in and be extradited home from Turkey to face charges, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday.

His associates are soon to become aware that the believed drug kingpin compromised them, BBC said, citing senior police officials.

"If you look at Ayik and his involvement, essentially he's almost like the prime sponsor of ANOM among the criminal cartels and the criminal milieu,'' it cited Australian Federal Police Superintendent Jared Taggart as saying.

"These devices exist almost everywhere … it's like a family tree, you could probably trace almost all devices back to him'' he added.

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