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Friday, February 26, 2021

Explained: Who is Tse Chi Lop, ‘Asia’s El Chapo’, arrested in Netherlands?

Australian police had been tracking Tse for 10 years before his arrest in Amsterdam, from where he was preparing to fly to Canada.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: January 30, 2021 10:54:08 am
Tse Chi Lop, Tse Chi Lop arrested, asian druglord arrested, Sam Gor Syndicate, Sam Gor Syndicate The Company, el chapo, Asia’s El Chapo, illegal drug trade, indian express, express explainedArrested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, Tse will face trial in Australia upon extradition from the Netherlands. (File photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Chinese-born Canadian national Tse Chi Lop, who allegedly leads one of the world’s largest drug empires, was on Friday arrested in Netherlands on a warrant issued by Australia.

Tse, 56, is believed to lead the criminal organisation called ‘The Company’, also known as the Sam Gor Syndicate, which dominates the $70 billion-per-year Asia-Pacific drug trade, as per the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Arrested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, Tse will face trial in Australia upon extradition from the Netherlands.

Who is Tse Chi Lop?

Tse, who is believed to be behind one of the world’s largest narcotics rackets, has been compared to the Mexican gangster Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman – at one time considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world – who is currently spending life in prison in the US.

The syndicate Tse allegedly heads – The Company – is accused of manufacturing synthetic drugs in the under-policed jungles of Myanmar, which are dominated by competing militias and warlords. From here, The Company is believed to move the narcotics to nearby markets in Bangkok, as well as those much farther away such as in Japan and Australia, a CNN report said.

According to the AFP, Tse’s cartel is considered responsible for 70% of all illegal drugs entering Australia. As per a 2019 Reuters investigation into Tse, his vast narcotics network made up to $17 billion in 2018 from methamphetamine sales alone, based on UN estimates. His organisation is believed to launder a large portion of the illicit proceeds through casinos in Southeast Asia that are poorly regulated.

In a statement, the AFP said, “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.”

According to a BBC report, Australian police had been tracking Tse for 10 years before his arrest at Amsterdam’s airport, from where he was preparing to fly to Canada. Dutch police acted on a request by the AFP, after an arrest warrant and Interpol Red Diffusion notice was issued, as per a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“He was already on the most-wanted list and he was detained based on intelligence we received,” Dutch police spokesperson Thomas Aling said.

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Tse, who was born in China and later moved to Canada, formerly lived in Toronto. He was sentenced to nine years in prison in the US after he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in 2000. He was released in 2006, and in later years, was said to be moving between Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

As per the Reuters investigation, the effort to arrest Tse was called Operation Kunger, in which around 20 agencies from around the world took part, with the AFP taking the lead.

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