Before he was caught, fugitive Mostafa Baluch had allegedly planned to flee Australia and meet up with other international criminals in Europe.
But the accused drug lord’s plans came undone in the early hours of Wednesday when he was caught hiding in a car inside a container on the back of a truck at the NSW-Queensland border.
See the moment Baluch was found in the video above
For 17 days before his capture, the 33-year-old had evaded police after allegedly cutting off his monitoring anklet and fleeing Sydney on October 25.
He had been released on bail just days earlier.
It’s now been revealed Baluch was planning to travel to Far North Queensland before sailing to Indonesia and then Thailand.
From there, he planned to fly to Eastern Europe where he’d meet with other high-profile criminals in the Balkans.
Before he was caught, police received a tip-off that Baluch would be crossing the border hidden in a truck.
They had searched dozens of trucks over recent days, but one caught the eye of an officer because it wasn’t properly secured.
He knocked on the side of its container and received a knock back from Baluch, who was subsequently arrested.
“We suspect that the person … thought it was a drop off point – that he was being signalled that it is safe,” Organised Crime Squad Commander Rob Critchlow said.
“Of course, he didn’t realise it was a constable.
“He was a bit shocked when we found him.”
Baluch remains behind bars in Queensland, awaiting extradition to New South Wales.
He is set to face court on Thursday.
NSW Police Minister David Elliott, who previously referred to Baluch as “our Pablo Escobar”, said his recapture ends a humiliating debacle for the state.
“I was embarrassed for the Australian Federal Police because they had to go and tell our international partners that we had lost one of the big ones,” Elliott said.
“I’m tracking down the constable that did the famous knock on the side of the truck. He’ll get a beer and a hug from me when the borders open.”
Baluch had been charged with a string of alleged drug offences related to a 900kg shipment of cocaine into Australia that had a street value of $270 million, but will also face charges over his alleged breach of bail.
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