Recaptured fugitive Mostafa Baluch is on his way back to Sydney after a Queensland court approved his extradition.
The alleged drug smuggler left the Gold Coast Watchhouse and arrived at Coolangatta airport to return to NSW.
Officers from Queensland’s Special Emergency Response Team, NSW Organised Crime Squad and Australian Federal Police accompanied Mr Baluch.
Mr Baluch will be flown by PolAir from Coolangatta airport to Bankstown airport.
After arriving in Sydney, he will be transferred into Corrective Services NSW custody where he will then be charged at Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre.
The 33-year-old had been on the run for two weeks before police found him sitting in a Mercedes-Benz stored inside a shipping container on a truck early yesterday.
He faced Southport courthouse today where NSW Police applied for extradition back to Sydney where it was granted.
He was recaptured at a Tweeds Head border checkpoint at 1am yesterday when a Queensland police officer knocked on the side of the suspicious white container.
He then heard a knock back from inside. Police believe it was a pre-arranged signal.
Police said Mr Baluch was “shocked” to be met by uniformed Queensland police officers and not alleged underworld figures.
Moving through the night for some hours, police said Mr Baluch probably believed he’d reached his final destination, somewhere in Queensland, where he allegedly hoped to make a jump overseas.
Mr Baluch was suspected to be involved in the biggest-ever plot to allegedly import cocaine into Sydney, including 900 kilograms seized off Ecuador.
The driver was already of interest to NSW Police, Detective Critchlow said, describing the man and his trucking company as “involved in transportation but he also transports other commodities from time to time”.
The Australian Federal Police, the NSW, Queensland, Victorian and South Australian police forces were involved in the manhunt for Mr Baluch.
A truck driver has also been arrested and implicated in broader alleged smuggling operations.
Mr Baluch was granted local court bail, in an application opposed by police, and walked from jail after putting up his $4 million property as bond and agreeing to wear an electronic monitoring anklet.
“The property is now forfeited to the state,” NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said.