On January 22, 2021, one of the world’s most wanted fugitives Tse Chi Lop, was arrested. The Chinese born, 57 year old, was boarding a flight to Canada at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport when detained. At the request of a warrant issued by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Interpol Red Diffusion order, the Dutch police seized the Canadian national. Tse Chi Lop is accused of being the leader of Asia’s biggest drug trafficking operation. According to the AFP, Tse runs a multibillion-dollar organization called the Sam Gor syndicate. The massive drug-trafficking group, also known as the “the company,” trades illicit drugs throughout Asia and Australia. Authorities estimate the drug lord’s empire to be worth over 70 billion dollars.
Tse Chi Lop A.K.A. Asian “El Chapo”
For over a decade, the AFP has tentatively tracked Tse Chi Lop for his suspected involvement with the Sam Gor syndicate. Nicknamed “Operation Kungur,” the AFP and about 20 other foreign agencies led the international investigation. The multinational pursuit followed the drug conglomerate’s money trails. They eventually arrested 27 suspects and cut off a few global distribution networks. Based on the sheer size and billions generated by “the company,” people have dubbed Tse Chi Lop as the Asian “El Chapo.” Experts even believe the ex-convict to be among the leagues of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman and Pablo Escobar. Tse’s organization is, perhaps, the largest illicit narcotics trading ring in Asian history. But what is most concerning is the short amount of time it took him to build his empire.
The Rise of Sam Gor Syndicate
From 2015 to 2019, the syndicate rapidly expanded. It quadrupled the rate of crystal-methamphetamine trafficking in Asia. Tse’s Asia-Pacific drug trade supplied methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs globally. They also produced heroin, MDMA, and meth. The illicit operation became successful almost overnight. By partnering up with smaller groups of criminals, the conglomerate gained territory quickly. They traveled from nation to nation, creating deals with local gangs.
Before 2019, the accused drug kingpin, Tse Chi Lop, lived in the shadows. Police sources claim the wealthy man even traveled with a guard of Thai kickboxers. It wasn’t until Reuters published an investigative article that everything came to light. The piece revealed Tse’s identity. Only then were authorities able to close in on him. According to the report, Tse ran his operation from Hong Kong, Macao, and Southeast Asia. It also connected Tse’s syndicate to 13 drug trafficking cases.
Reuter’s Grand Reveal
Shortly after Reuter’s grand reveal, AFP issued a warrant for Tse Chi Lop’s arrest in 2019. Yet, after learning about the multinational investigation into him, he hid in Taiwan. Finally, last Friday, authorities caught the supposed “Asian El Chapo” in the Netherlands. The Dutch now detains Tse, and the Australian government has requested his extradition. Tse Chi Lop’s arrest is a win against the global war on drugs. But the was is not over. The demand for synthetic drugs remains strong. If efficient change is not made soon, it is only a matter of time before someone new steps up and replaces Tse.