‘Asia’s El Chapo’ arrested by police in Amsterdam

Dutch police have arrested the alleged leader of one of the world’s biggest drug gangs.

Officers said they detained Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian accused of running The Company, an organisation believed to dominate the £50bn-a year Asia-Pacific drug trade, on Friday.

Mr Tse, who has been compared to Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was arrested without incident at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport,  Dutch police spokesperson Thomas Aling has said. 

“He was already on the most-wanted list and he was detained based on intelligence we received,” Mr Aling said.

The alleged gang leader was arrested on a warrant issued by Australia.

He is expected to be extradited after appearing before a judge.

In a separate statement, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said its department had issued an arrest warrant for Mr Tse in 2019 in connection with an investigation known as Operation Volante. 

Operation Volante had been launched with the goal of dismantling a “global crime syndicate operating in five countries”, the police force said. 

“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 AFP said. 

In 2013, the police force had announced that the same operation had resulted in the arrest of 27 people for importing and trafficking substantial quantities of heroin and methamphetamine into Australia.

Speaking in 2019, Jeremy Douglas, the Southeast Asia and Pacific representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), claimed Mr Tse was “in the league of El Chapo or maybe Pablo Escobar’.” 

The organisation he is accused of running, which is also known by the name “Sam Gor”, which means “Brother Number Three” in Cantonese, is believed to be connected with at least 13 cases of drug trafficking since January 2015, according to Reuters. 

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