A Chinese-born Canadian known as Asia’s “El Chapo” has been arrested in Amsterdam on Friday.
Tse Chi Lop, 57, reportedly made up to $17.7 billion a year as the alleged leader of Asia’s biggest crime syndicate in history, referred to by its members as “The Company” and by law enforcers as “Sam Gor.”
Tse allegedly conducted Sam Gor’s operations in Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia. But it was Australian authorities who issued a warrant for his arrest in 2019.
It turns out Tse was responsible for 70% of the drugs that reach Australia. “The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime,” the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said, according to Sky News.
Sam Gor reportedly funneled tons of methamphetamine, heroin and ketamine to at least a dozen countries. But authorities believe meth was its main business while Tse sold ecstasy on the side.
Tse’s full name, however, was largely unheard of until Reuters published an investigative article that identified him in 2019. According to the outlet, Tse was the primary target of the AFP-led Operation Kungur, which involved some 20 agencies in Asia, Europe and North America.
It is unclear how much money Tse has made over the years. Estimates from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) put Sam Gor’s revenue between $8 billion and $17.7 billion per year.
“The importance of Tse’s arrest can not be underestimated. It’s big and (has) been a long time coming,” said Jeremy Douglas, regional representative of the UNODC in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, according to CNN.
Dutch authorities arrested Tse at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam while he prepared to board a flight to Canada. Australian officials confirmed on Sunday that he would be extradited to face charges, The New York Times reported.
This is not the first time Tse has been involved with drugs. In 1998, he was found guilty of importing heroin to the U.S. and served six years in prison.