UPDATE 1 pm: A $20,000 surety has been given to the court as part of bail conditions for alleged ACT Comanchero commander Khaled Khoder.
His partner, Camilla Page, and mother, Mona Farrell, put up $10,000 each during his bail hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court today (9 May).
The prosecution called Detective Senior Constable Damien Clarke as part of a bid to deny Mr Khoder bail.
He said police were concerned Mr Khoder was a flight risk, and that bail should not be granted.
Snr Const Clarke claimed Mr Khoder has overseas ties to Comanchero head Mark Buddle, who has fled the country and whose whereabouts are unknown, as well as his cousin Masoud Omari, who is accused of importing MDMA into Australia and is believed to be living in Lebanon or Turkey.
“Mr Khoder has significant ties to [the Comanchero’s international network],” he said.
“We have telecommunications intercepted with Mr Khoder planning a trip to Lebanon … plus a potential trip to Thailand, and he paid extra money to have an Australian passport issued.”
He claimed Mr Khoder was planning a trip to Lebanon in May 2022.
Snr Const Clarke also highlighted his concerns Mr Khoder had a “propensity” to disregard bail conditions based on previous breaches.
However, defence barrister Luke Vozella pointed out Mr Khoder’s parole had not been revoked, and no action had been taken in regard to these breaches and were therefore not a good predictor of future behaviour.
He also argued that his client’s flight risk was overstated and that when he was arrested at Melbourne Airport, he had no overseas tickets or an Australian passport.
“He wasn’t making a mad dash to Thailand to reunite with drug cartel overlords,” he said.
“He was due at the birth of a friend’s child, which was imminent.”
Mr Vozella also argued the police’s case against his client “is not an overwhelmingly strong one”.
Magistrate Louise Taylor decided to grant bail, agreeing that a $20,000 surety be lodged with the court.
She also ordered Mr Khoder reside in Bonner, report to Gungahlin Police Station twice a day (between 6 am and 8 am and 6 pm and 8 pm), be under curfew from 8 pm to 8 am, not use illegal drugs, not possess any firearm, ammunition or explosive material, not be within 100 metres of an airport, and cannot apply for any new passports.
A list of 28 people was also read out whom Mr Khoder cannot contact, nor is he allowed to communicate, directly or indirectly, with any member of the Comancheros.
He will reappear in court on 7 June.
Mr Khoder is facing one charge of trafficking a drug of dependence other than cannabis, based on police phone intercepts with a co-defendant, Alexander Douglas Cameron.
In court documents, police allege Mr Khoder discussed with Mr Cameron the movements of drugs.
“These included arrangements to meet one person – who the co-defendant had earlier told to source money – in a car park and an offer to supply a ‘B’ or ‘hb’,” the statement of facts said.
“‘B’ and ‘HB’ are known terminology, meaning ‘ball’ and ‘half ball’ respectively. A ‘ball’ refers to an ‘eight ball’, which means 3.5 grams of drugs, or 1.8 of an ounce. A ‘half ball’ is half an ‘eight ball’, or approximately 1.75 grams of drugs.”
It also is alleged police observed the defendant and co-defendant from 10:47 pm on 10 April meeting at a Coombs service station and exchanging money.
The statement of facts showed on 30 April, police executed a warrant on a unit at a Coombs apartment complex, where they found:
- a pair of black and white Under Armour shoes, matching those captured on CCTV as worn by the defendant at the Ampol service station on 10 April
- three small clip seal bags containing a white crystalline substance
- six cannabis plants
- a clear bag containing a white substance
- two Apple iPhones
- a set of digital scales
- a notebook containing handwritten notes of initials next to amounts
- a black velvet bag containing a clip seal bag with white powder
- an Adidas bum bag containing scales and multiple empty clip seal bags
Police said they also found a total of 700 grams of a substance presumptively tested as methylamphetamine, a Colt 38 revolver firearm, five 38 SPL cartridges, five sets of digital scales, $40,000 in cash, a bag containing 15 driver’s licences and proof of age cards, a Telstra mobile phone, and a bag of unused clip seal bags in two separate utility cupboards in common areas of the complex.
No charges have been laid in relation to the items found at this stage.
9:50 am – An alleged bikie gang commander will front the ACT Magistrates Court today (9 May) following his arrest in Victoria.
Victoria Taskforce Echo investigators were contacted by ACT Police last Thursday (5 May) shortly before 6 pm requesting their help in arresting the man and supporting his extradition back to the Territory following information the man had boarded a domestic flight to Melbourne.
Along with Australian Federal Police officers, Echo detectives attended Melbourne Airport and arrested a 30-year-old Coombs man.
ACT Policing detectives arrived in Melbourne on Friday (6 May) to apply for his extradition.
His arrest follows the execution of a warrant by detectives from the Drugs and Organised Crime Team and Taskforce Nemesis at a Coombs home on 30 April as part of an investigation into drug trafficking and firearm-related offending.
ACT police officers said they located and seized approximately 700 grams of suspected methylamphetamine, about $40,000 in cash, drug paraphernalia, a handgun and ammunition during the search.
Police will allege the 30-year-old resident of the home is a senior Comanchero member who has directed the gang’s criminal operations in the ACT.
The man is scheduled to appear in the ACT Magistrates Court today where he will be charged with one count of trafficking in a controlled drug other than cannabis.
Bail will be opposed and it is anticipated that additional charges will be laid at a later date.
Detective Inspector Mark Steel said this arrest will contribute to the ongoing decline of the Comancheros as a criminal gang, both in the ACT and across the country.
“As a result of sustained investigative work by ACT Policing and its interstate law enforcement and intelligence partners, the Comancheros are a gang in decline,” Detective Inspector Steel said.
“Anyone with any control over the group is either in prison, has fled overseas or has left the gang. The romantic view of a lifelong brotherhood has been overtaken by greed and infighting within the remaining members of the Comancheros.
“We are also pleased to see that the gang is struggling to continue to recruit new members as potential nominees see that the Comancheros are no longer a well-organised gang but merely a ticket to prison.”
Anyone with information about the activities of organised criminal gangs in the ACT is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Information can be provided anonymously.