‘Asia’s El Chapo’ extradited to Australia to face drug trafficking charges

WELLINGTON: Australian Federal Police (AFP) said on Thursday (Dec 22) it had taken the head of a global drug trafficking syndicate, dubbed “Asia’s El Chapo”, into custody after he was extradited from the Netherlands.

The AFP said the arrest is the culmination of a long-running investigation into an organised crime syndicate known as “Sam Gor”, or “The Company”, that it says trafficked methamphetamine worth millions of dollars of into Australia.

The AFP did not identify the person arrested by name, and does not typically disclose the names of arrested individuals before trial.

A person familiar with the case said the man arrested was Canadian citizen Tse Chi Lop, one of the world’s most prominent drug lords. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The person declined to be identified citing lack of authorisation to discuss the case publicly.

A second man was arrested by the AFP in June in connection with the case.

“We allege the individuals charged by the AFP today and in June this year conspired to traffic commercial quantities of methamphetamine within Australia,” said AFP Assistant Commissioner Krissy Barrett.

“The AFP will make Australia a hostile environment for all trans-national serious organised crime syndicates that target our communities.”

Reuters reported in 2019 that Tse was the prime target of Operation Kungur, an-AFP led investigation involving around 20 agencies from Asia, North America and Europe.

The United Nations’ narcotics agency estimated the Sam Gor syndicate’s meth revenue in 2018 at US$8 billion a year, but said it could be as high as US$17.7 billion, with a 40 per cent to 70 per cent share of the wholesale regional meth market that has expanded at least fourfold in the past five years.