An alleged drug lord dubbed ‘Asia’s El Chapo’ Tse Chi Lop has been arrested in the Netherlands
An accused drug lord dubbed ‘Asia’s El Chapo‘ has been brought down following a two-year manhunt led by Australian investigators.
Tse Chi Lop, 57, was dragged off a plane in the Netherlands on Friday after Australian Federal Police issued a request for his arrest through international law-enforcement agency Interpol.
The Chinese-born Canadian national is accused of being one of the world’s biggest meth dealers whose syndicate is responsible for up to 70 per cent of all narcotics entering Australia.
Tse is now facing possible extradition to Australia, where he could face trial on charges of drug trafficking.
He allegedly oversees an alliance of five Chinese Triads that distribute everything from heroin and MDMA to ketamine via it’s ‘Golden Triangle’ super-labs in Asia.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates Tse’s alleged network known as ‘The Company’ rakes in between $10billion and $23billion a year from organised crime.
Law enforcement agencies from about 20 countries – including the US, Canada, Myanmar, China, Thailand and Japan – have been hunting Mr Tse as part of Operation Kungur since 2019.
The Chinese-born Canadian national is suspected of being one of the world’s biggest meth dealers and thought to be responsible for up to 70 per cent of all narcotics entering Australia
Finding Tse has been complicated by him living largely in secret and being constantly guarded by a crew of professional Muay Thai kickboxers.
But despite his low profile, he is also known for his outlandish spending and wild parties.
He once gambled away $85million in a single night at a Macau casino.
His arrest this week is believed to have come as he was being deported by Taiwanese officials to Canada via a layover in Europe, The Courier Mail reported.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission in 2012 described The Company’s members’ as having a ‘well-established network of contacts across many governments as well as legitimate business and company structures, that enables them to mask and support their criminal activities’.
One of Tse’s closest associate’s is a Triad boss known as ‘Broken Tooth’ Wan Kuok Koi.
WHO IS ASIA’S EL CHAPO?
Tse Chi Lop was born in Southern China’s Guangdong Province in 1964 and in his youth became a low-ranking member of the Big Circle Triad gang.
He moved to Canada during the 1980s.
In 1996, Tse was arrested in the US by the FBI for his role in a drug smuggling operation bringing in heroin from Asia’s Golden Triangle.
He served nine years in prison were he made connections with a notorious 14K Triad boss Wan Kuok Ko – who goes by the name ‘Broken Tooth’.
Police in up to 20 countries accuse Tse of being the kingpin of The Company – an association of five Chinese Triads that traffic billions of dollars in drugs including meth, heroin, MDMA and Ketamine every year.
A record 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine were seized on the west coast of Australia with eight men charged. The deal is alleged to be linked to The Company
He owns private jets and once gambled away $85million in a single night at a Macau casino.
Despite his jet-setting lifestyle, the pudgy 57-year-old looks more like an office worker than a cartel boss.
Australian Federal Police ordered an INTERPOL red notice for his arrest on Friday in relation to a number of drug trafficking offences alleged to have been carried out in Australia.
The AFP plan to extradite the accused drug kingpin back to Australia to face trial.
He is thought to be responsible for 70 per cent of all narcotics entering Australia.
The gangster reportedly has ties to the top of the Chinese government and was involved in funding and promoting the Communist Party’s global Belt and Road global infrastructure initiative, The Age reported.
The Company has been known to smuggle drugs in shipments hidden in tea, rice and other consumer goods.
‘Tse Chi Lop is in the league of El Chapo or maybe Pablo Escobar,’ Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia and Pacific representative for UNODC told Reuters in 2018.
‘The word kingpin often gets thrown around, but there is no doubt it applies here.’
El Chapo was one of the world’s most notorious gang leaders who was sentenced to life in prison by a New York federal court February 2019.
Police say The Company operates in several countries, moving drugs throughout Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Europe and other parts of the world.
AFP officers display bundles of cash confiscated from a drug syndicate operating across South East Asia
The multinational cartel also develops and maintains relationships with local criminal groups including Japan’s Yakuza and Australian outlaw bikie gangs.
Tse has been on the Australian Federal Police’s radar for about eight years, after a major drug bust in Melbourne seized 2kg of heroin and meth, $4million in cash, $5million worth of residential properties, $10,000 in jewellery, 99 designer handbags and wallets, a Lamborghini and $600,000 in casino chips.
Since then the mysterious Tse has been of ‘significant interest’ to the AFP.
Tse has been on the AFP’s radar for about eight years, after a major drug bust in Melbourne seized a haul including $5million worth of residential properties, a Lamborghini (pictured) and $600,000 in casino chips.
A major international crime syndicate has been smashed with the seizure of 42kg of drugs and the arrests of 27 people, police say as part of Volante in 2013
‘In 2013, the AFP announced that Op Volante had resulted in the arrest of 27 people for importing and trafficking substantial quantities of heroin and methamphetamine into Australia,’ the AFP said in a statement.
‘The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime.’
‘The AFP will work with the Attorney-General’s Department to prepare a formal extradition request.’
Police alleged ‘shore parties’ working for The Company unloaded the drugs (pictured) from a mothership, 500km off the coast of Western Australia
AFP officers are pictured after seizing the record quantity of meth in Western Australia in 2017
In 2016, a Taiwanese national was arrested at Yangon Airport in Myanmar strapped with bags of ketamine.
He refused to talk but when local investigators searched his phone they uncovered two torture videos showing a man bound and crying while getting his feet blowtorched and electrocuted with a cattle prod.
The same phone also revealed pictures of Tse, which were handed on to the AFP.
A small meth lab, which police suspect was used to experiment with new recipes, is seen inside a raided compound belonging to Sue Songkittikul, a suspected Sam Gor syndicate operations chief
The breakthrough arrest led to 622kg of ketamine and 1.1 tonnes of meth getting seized in Myanmar.
Information on the phone also culminated in 1.2 tonnes of meth being nabbed in Geraldton, Western Australia, the following year.
Police alleged ‘shore parties’ working for The Company unloaded the drugs from the mothership, 500km off the coast.