Tse Chi Lop was detained in Amsterdam after Australia issued an Interpol request and warrant for his arrest
Australian police allege he’s the head of ‘the Sam Gor syndicate’, which dominates the US$70 billion-a-year Asia-Pacific drug trade
Dutch police have arrested a Chinese-Canadian man accused of being the head of a massive Asian drug syndicate and who is listed as one of the world’s most-wanted fugitives.
Tse Chi Lop, 57, was detained on Friday after Australia issued an Interpol request and warrant for his arrest.
The Australian Federal Police, which has taken the lead in a sprawling investigation into the criminal organisation, identified Tse as “the senior leader of the Sam Gor syndicate”, an organisation also known as “The Company”.
It said on Sunday that Tse, who is compared to Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was “of significant interest” to both them and counterpart law enforcement agencies in other countries.
According to the Australian Federal Police investigation, Tse’s organisation was found to dominate the US$70 billion-a-year Asia-Pacific drug trade, Dutch police spokesman Thomas Aling said.
The group has “been connected with or directly involved in at least 13 cases” of drug trafficking since January 2015, Australian Federal Police documents showed.
Investigators allege Tse, a Chinese-born Canadian national, was involved in a group which imported and distributed large quantities of illicit drugs and laundered the profits overseas.
Some 27 people were arrested in 2013 in connection with the syndicate’s alleged importation of heroin and methamphetamine into Australia.
“Sam Gor” – or Brother Number Three in Cantonese – is said to be one of Tse’s nicknames.
Tse is expected to be extradited after appearing before a judge, Aling said, adding that his arrest by national police took place without incident at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
“He was already on the most-wanted list and he was detained based on intelligence we received,” Aling said.
Dutch police were unable to provide details about the legal proceedings and it was not clear if Tse had a lawyer.
Tse, an ex-convict who formerly lived in Toronto, has moved between Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan in recent years, according to counter-narcotics officers from four countries and documents previously reviewed by Reuters.
“Tse Chi Lop is in the league of El Chapo or maybe Pablo Escobar,” Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia and Pacific representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said in 2019, referring to Latin America’s most notorious drug lords.