"he didn't realise it was a constable."
Police have arrested a suspected drug trafficker who was dubbed ‘Australia’s most wanted man’.
Mostafa Baluch was found hiding inside a shipping container at the back of a lorry after police received a tipoff.
Police searched the container and found the “shocked and surprised” 33-year-old hiding inside a grey Mercedes SUV.
Police say that Baluch was trying to cross from New South Wales into Queensland when he was arrested on November 10, 2021.
Baluch had been granted bail for a drug importation charge.
However, he allegedly cut off the ankle monitor that had been tracking him in Sydney, sparking a 17-day nationwide manhunt.
Baluch had been on bail on charges of attempting to import 900 kilograms of cocaine from Ecuador.
Organised Crime Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Rob Crichlow described the arrest as a “very happy day”.
He explained: “They noticed some suspicious items with the container that wasn’t properly locked and other things that caught their attention.
“Famously, there was a knock on the side of the truck and he knocked back.
“He was a bit shocked and ultimately good police work secured his arrest.
“We suspect that the person… thought it was a drop off point – that he was being signalled that it is safe.
“Of course, he didn’t realise it was a constable.”
Det Supt Crichlow paid tribute to investigators who have spent the last two weeks working around the clock to track Baluch down.
He continued: “He had a lot of help but there were a lot of people against him.
“The community have turned the criminal element against him. He attracted a lot of attention and it’s caused impacts for people he knows.
“We will look at everybody he knows and everybody he talks to and we have and we’ve achieved excellent results. We’ll continue with that.”
Police Minister David Elliott said:
“Today will be considered one of the great days of NSW Police.”
Mr Elliott also questioned why Baluch was released on bail.
According to NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, an “extraordinary” amount of money was spent tracking down ‘Australia’s most wanted man’.
He added: “I’d have nightmares if I even started to think about it.”
Baluch faced a court case on November 10, 2021.
Police said the man who was driving the lorry would face charges for allegedly assisting a fugitive.
Baluch has been accused of having a senior position in a criminal network, and police said he posed a threat to the public while at large.