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'Asia's El Chapo' extradited to Australia to face drug trafficking charges

'Asia's El Chapo' extradited to Australia to face drug trafficking charges
Crystal methamphetamine found during a drug bust. (File photo: AFP/Handout/Australian Federal Police)

The alleged boss of Asia's biggest crime syndicate and one of the world's most wanted men has been extradited to Australia and arrested on drug trafficking charges, police said on Thursday (Dec 22).

Chinese-born Canadian Tse Chi Lop, 59, is suspected of being the leader of an Asian mega-cartel known as Sam Gor, a major global producer and supplier of methamphetamines.

He is expected to appear in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Thursday to answer a charge of "conspiracy to traffic commercial quantities of controlled drugs" after being extradited from the Netherlands.

Tse, dubbed Asia's "El Chapo" in reference to Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman's nickname, faces life imprisonment if convicted.

Australian police hailed it as "one of the most high-profile arrests in the history" of the country.

The Sam Gor organisation - or "The Company" - is believed to launder billions in drug money through casinos, hotels and real estate in Southeast Asia's Mekong region.

Tse was detained at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in January 2021 after a decade-long hunt.

He had been the subject of an Interpol Red Notice.

Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Krissy Barrett said the arrest came after a "very complex investigation".

"We allege this male is the head of a large transnational organised crime syndicate," she said.

"By their very nature, these very senior figures within the syndicates obviously deliberately stay hands-off in terms of the business dealings."

"That's why it's such a significant arrest and why it has taken a fair amount of time."

Australian police said that the charges relate to a specific 2012-2013 operation transferring drugs from Melbourne to Sydney.

A police sting at the time nabbed 27 people and netted 20kg of methamphetamine with a current street value of around US$3 million.

A second man has also been arrested after being extradited from Thailand.

"The hard work of investigators, and the (Australian Federal Police) international network, has enabled these alleged offenders to be charged and face the justice system in Australia," said Barrett.

Source: AFP/gr


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