The right-hand man of “Asia’s El Chapo” has been extradited to Australia after spending over a year in a Thai prison following his arrest in 2020.
Working with the Royal Thai Police, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) extradited Chung Chak Lee, 66, to Melbourne on Saturday for his involvement in the $23 billion drug operation known as The Company.
Lee, a Chinese British national, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday afternoon. He is facing one charge of conspiracy to traffic a commercial quantity of a controlled drug, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The case was delayed after Lee’s lawyer declared a conflict of interest to ensure he could seek adequate representation.
“The extradition of someone we allege to be high on the pecking order of this serious criminal syndicate is a significant milestone for the AFP,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Krissy Barrett said. “It shows the AFP and its partners remain one step ahead in working tirelessly to keep our community safe.”
Lee was arrested inside his Bangkok apartment in 2020 and had spent 18 months in a Thai jail before his extradition. The AFP believe Lee was acting as a top associate of Tse Chi Lop, also known as “Asia’s El Chapo” and leader of The Company. Tse’s criminal ring was reportedly responsible for 70% of meth coming into Australia from Asia.
Lee, who operated from Hong Kong and Bangkok before his arrest, was accused of laundering millions in drug money through Crown Casino.
Australian police spent more than a decade hunting for Lee, who was listed as Australia’s sixth most wanted man. They had worked with 20 other international authorities to monitor and capture Lee.
“This is a significant milestone after years of persistent investigative work by the AFP and our partners,” Barrett told the Daily Telegraph. “We will allege the man is a senior criminal associate of the head of a prolific transnational organized crime syndicate involved in trafficking commercial quantities of border controlled drugs within Australia and around the world.”
“The Australian Federal Police has an international network of partners that are committed to pursuing offenders and bringing them to justice,” Barrett continued. “If you commit an offense, there is nowhere to hide. The AFP has the means and the patience to track you down.”