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El Chapo of Asia extradited to Australia

Asia’s most-wanted alleged drug lord has been extradited to Australia where he faces potential life imprisonment.

Tse Chi Lop is accused of heading up a multibillion-dollar drug operation spanning several countries in the Asia Pacific, from Japan to New Zealand.

A notorious figure whose status in Asia has long drawn comparisons to Mexican drug lord El Chapo, was arrested at a Dutch airport last year by Interpol.

Following a near two-year battle, he was finally extradited on Thursday.

Australian police released pictures of armed officers escorting him off the plane at Melbourne airport in handcuffs. He is due to face a local court on Thursday.

The 59-year-old is alleged to be the head of one of the world’s biggest multibillion-dollar drug syndicates.

The Company, also known as the Sam Gor Syndicate, dominates the illegal drugs market across Asia. Australian police estimate it’s responsible for up to 70% of the drugs coming into Australia alone.

They said the group smuggled huge quantities of drugs – particularly methamphetamine, but also heroin and ketamine into the country in packs of tea.

The scale of his alleged enterprises is why Tse has been compared to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Australian police had been hunting him for more than a decade. They say most of his drugs flowed into Sydney and Melbourne.

Tse was detained at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in January 2021 while trying to board a plane.

The effort to arrest Tse, Operation Kungur, involved about 20 agencies across continents with Australian police taking the lead. He was rumoured to have been living in Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan in recent years.

He previously spent nine years in prison after being arrested on drug trafficking charges in the US in the 1990s.

Writing by Tersoo Nicholas