A former bikie boss and male model wanted for questioning by Victoria Police over two murders has been nabbed in a major police crackdown on organised crime in Turkey.
Hasan Topal, a former Comancheros bikie boss and male model.
A source with knowledge of the raids, not authorised to speak publicly, confirmed that Hasan Topal was among 37 people picked up overnight by Turkish police in connection to an “international armed organised crime” network.
It is not known what he is charged with or the extent of his involvement in the alleged organised crime operation.
Australia’s most wanted alleged organised crime boss Hakan Ayik, who was famously duped by police operatives in 2021, was also arrested in the Turkish raids overnight, along with other major Australian crime figures such as Hakan Arif.
Hasan Topal, a former male model who rose to become leader of Victoria’s Comanchero outlaw motorcycle gang, had been linked to a string of assaults in Melbourne.
He was wanted for questioning by police over the 2017 murders of Muhammed Yucel, shot dead in Keysborough, and Zabi Ezedyar, shot in Narre Warren, though no charges have been laid.
Turkish police conducted dawn raids across Istanbul for the investigation into international drug trafficking and money laundering.
Victoria Police said they believe both murders were cases of mistaken identity by the Comancheros who had really been targeting associates of other bikie gangs.
Topal left Australia in 2019, just months after completing a prison term for his role in a wild Comanchero-on-Comanchero brawl at a Canberra strip club.
Hasan Topal during his modelling days in Melbourne. Credit: George Poulakis
The dawn raids in Turkey are part of a major operation targeting the Comanchero bikie gang, assisted by extensive dealings between Australian Federal Police and Turkish authorities investigating international drug trafficking and money laundering.
Ayik, also known as “Big Hux”, has been sought by Australian authorities for alleged serious drug offences for more than a decade. But sources not authorised to speak publicly say he will not be extradited to Australia.
An estimated $250 million in bank accounts, real estate, vehicles and company shares linked to 55 people were seized in the operation, Turkish authorities said.
It culminates many months of collaboration between Australian and Turkish authorities, with official sources telling this masthead that federal police had encouraged Turkish police to investigate and prosecute Ayik as a Turkish citizen, instead of continuing to pursue an extradition.
In a statement late on Thursday, a federal police spokesperson acknowledged the Turkish National Police for undertaking “one of the most significant operations targeting alleged transnational serious organised criminals”.
They said the investigation included alleged offenders accused of illicit drug trafficking to Australia and around the world.
“[Turkey] is a regional leader in the global fight against transnational serious organised crime … [we have] witnessed the Turkish National Police’s determination in disrupting, arresting and charging alleged organised crime figures,” the spokesperson said, adding that the federal police had a presence in the Turkish capital Ankara.
A Victoria Police spokesperson said they were aware of the arrests in Turkey and “will provide support to the AFP and the Turkish National Police should it be required.”
In relation to the ongoing investigation into the 2017 shooting murders of Yucel and Ezedyar, Victoria Police said: “detectives from the homicide squad will thoroughly examine all new information received as part of the ongoing investigation.”
In 2021, this masthead revealed Ayik was living in Istanbul, exposing his suspected role as the founder of the “Aussie Cartel” of organised crime figures wielding major influence over drug importation into Australia.
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