There’s been a development in the search for a Sydney millionaire, and alleged drug lord, who became the subject of a manhunt days after he was released on bail.
Police have seized cocaine and cash from properties in Sydney’s west as they ramp up efforts to find an alleged drug lord who breached bail just days after being released from jail.
Mostafa Baluch, 33, who owned Northbridge’s Cervo restaurant before it closed, is alleged to have been the financier behind a 900kg shipment of cocaine into Australia that had a street value of $270m.
He has been the subject of a “massive” manhunt after NSW Police last Tuesday said he had breached bail and was believed to have left the northern beaches.
Mr Baluch, who was charged with multiple offences in June, was granted bail and released from custody, subject to strict conditions, at Sydney Central Local Court last month.
Various theories have emerged about what may have happened to Mr Baluch, including that he fled the city on a private jet or was kidnapped.
Police have rubbished the latter.
NSW Police on Friday provided an update on the case, detailing two properties in Sydney’s west were raided on Thursday.
“Detectives are continuing to conduct extensive searches and other investigative activities in conjunction with the AFP and ABF to locate him,” NSW Police said.
“As part of ongoing inquiries, detectives attached to Strike Force Jillabenan executed two search warrants at Potts Hill and Yagoona from 9.45pm yesterday.
“Police seized more than $250,000 cash, about 200 grams of cocaine, 485 grams of an unknown substance, mobile phones, an electronic money counter and other items.”
All items seized will undergo further forensic examination.
Early last year NSW Police began investigating an alleged international organised crime syndicate involved in the importation of drugs across Australia, North America and South America.
A tip-off from the NSW Police led to the US Navy seizing 870kg of cocaine off the Colombian coast and the United States Coast Guard seizing a further 900kg in a second ship off Ecuador.
Police allege the conspirators planned to supply 3000kg of cocaine – including the 1770kg that was seized off South America — and Mr Baluch was the sole financier of the 900kg shipment seized off Ecuador.
He was arrested in June and charged with a string of offences, including supplying a prohibited drug and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
Later that month police laid further charges of conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border-controlled drug, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if found guilty.
Mr Baluch was remanded in prison until he successfully applied for bail.
He was granted bail on a string of strict conditions, including that he put up a $4m surety.
He was also required to report to Mona Vale police station daily, not communicate with any witness, not drink alcohol or take drugs, not use encrypted devices and be fitted with an ankle monitor.
He reportedly checked in at Mona Vale police station on Monday, October 25 and then returned to his multimillion-dollar waterfront home on Pittwater Rd in Bayview, where he was last seen by his family about 10.40pm.
Police were then alerted to his ankle tag being tampered with.
But by the time police arrived at the location Mr Baluch was gone.
Detectives are now urging the public to come forward with information.
Mr Baluch is described Mediterranean/Middle Eastern in appearance, about 180cm tall, of a muscular build, with black hair and brown eyes.