Suspected cocaine smuggler on run caught by police after ordering Uber Eats
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Police managed to capture a fugitive on the run after he ordered an Uber Eats under his own name, allowing detectives to pounce.
Mike Stipinovich is alleged to have played a role in a cocaine smuggling operation and had been on the run from the cops since February.
However, he’s now in police custody having been hiding out in a secret compartment beneath a spa out the back of a property in West Australia.
The six-week manhunt was brought to a close in bizarre fashion after he ordered Uber Eats to the property using his own name.
That gave police the tip-off they needed, and they moved very quickly.
The force claim that when they arrested Stipinovich he had a loaded gun in a bag next to him.
Apparently, neighbours were told to stay away from windows in order to keep safe whilst the police did their thing, reporting that they heard officers on a loud hailer trying to establish communication with the people in the house.
One local resident told the West Australian: “I could hear one of the officers saying, ‘we know you ordered Uber Eats, we know you’re in there’,
“We heard them [the police] telling everyone [the local residents] to stay in your lounge rooms and keep away from your windows.”
Mr Stipinovich became the third person to be charged with drugs importation offences relating to more than 300kgs of cocaine.
Stipinovich appeared at Perth Magistrates Court on Thursday (23 March), for importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, which could carry a life sentence if he is found to be guilty.
The Australian Federal Police began searching after several cocaine-filled packages were found on an overturned boat off the West Australian coast.
Three men were found clinging to a cooler box floating in the ocean, claiming to have been fishing when their boat capsized.
Another bag of cocaine washed up on the shore, just one day before the boat was found.
The search began once the drugs were found, after a Perth judge issued warrants for their arrest.
Two of those men, 36-year-old Aristides Avlonitis and 45-year-old Karl Whitburn, were caught and arrested on February 15 and have also been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
The boat – called Aces and Eights – was allegedly owned by one of the men.
It was found partially submerged off the coast.
AFP Sergeant Kristen Swan said: “The AFP’s investigation has not ended with the charging of these three men”.
“We continue to work with our partners to track down anyone involved in this importation.
“The AFP’s drug harm index estimates the seizure of this amount of cocaine has saved the community more than $190m in drug-related harm, including associated crime, healthcare and loss of productivity.”
AFP is also investigating the people who might have helped Stipinovich evade capture for six weeks.