Tse Chi Lop, a suspected drug lord accused of running a multi-billion dollar methamphetamine empire, has been extradited to Australia after a nearly two-year legal battle with Dutch authorities.
Tse, 59, was arrested in January 2021 after landing a flight from Taiwan at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport. Dutch authorities then arrested him on the basis of an Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrest warrant issued in 2019 in connection with an operation against Sam Gor, the drug trafficking syndicate he is accused of leading.
Through his lawyers, Tse has denied all allegations made against him by the Australian authorities.
Australian authorities said Tse arrived on Thursday and was formally charged shortly after landing.
Tse, a Chinese-Canadian national with dual citizenship, decided to drop the appeals process in November after months of fighting extradition, a lawyer representing him told CNN. Tse’s lawyers had argued he was illegally sent to the Netherlands – where extradition laws are more favorable than in much of the world – as part of a program to ensure he remains behind bars for as long as possible.
Andre Seebregts, one of Tse’s lawyers, said his client was put on the plane to the Netherlands against his will and in violation of Taiwanese law, which obliged the island’s authorities to deport him to his home country of Canada unless he agreed otherwise . Seebregts told CNN that there was a direct flight to Canada less than an hour before Tse’s plane took off around 1 a.m
The Australian police declined to comment at the time.
Asia’s methamphetamine trade is believed to be worth billions of dollars each year, and Sam Gor, sometimes referred to simply as “The Company,” is reportedly its biggest player.
Authorities claimed the organization was generating between $8 billion and $17.7 billion a year in illicit revenue as of 2018, according to a briefing on the syndicate provided to CNN by an official with direct knowledge of the investigation.
The organization is accused of running a synthetic drug manufacturing empire in much of the underguarded jungle of Myanmar, a civil war-torn region still under the control of various competing warlords and militias – conditions that make it easy for itself to hide industrial-scale drug manufacturing plants from law enforcement.
Tse reportedly ran his multi-billion dollar operation from Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia. But his name – or his existence – was not publicly known until it was revealed by a Reuters investigation published in 2019, which dubbed him “Asia’s El Chapo”.
However, his arrest has not stopped the massive flow of drugs in Southeast Asia. A record amount of methamphetamine – including 1 billion meth tablets – has been seized in 2021 and drug prices are at an all-time low, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Tse has already been charged with criminal narcotics. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import heroin into the United States and was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2000. He was released in 2006 and returned to Canada before moving to Hong Kong.