Saturday, August 26, 2023

Tse Chi Lop - Asia’s El Chapo revisited

The boss of Asia’s biggest crime syndicate and one of the world’s most wanted men was extradited to Australia in late 2022. 9 months later and there has been nada to report on true kingpin Tse Chi Lop.

The UN estimated Sam Gor’s annual revenue at $21 billion.
Newspapers describe Tse Chi Lop, 60, as Asia’s El Chapo. That isn't a fair comparison, he was far bigger than that. Tse Chi Lop is a Chinese-born Canadian and the leader of a multi-billion dollar drug syndicate, The Company. Tse is billed as the biggest drug importer to be nabbed in two decades. He was arrested in Amsterdam in January 2021. Tse ran a drug syndicate known as 'Sam Gor,' Cantonese for 'Third Brother'
The crime group employs top chemists who manufacture synthetic drugs like fentanyl, meth, ecstasy and ketamine around the world. Tse Chi Lop was born in Guangzhou in 1963 and immigrated in 1988 to Toronto, where he was part of the Big Circle Boys. Toronto taught Tse his business. The seeds for what would become the world’s largest drug empire were planted during his days surviving the heroin glut in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He was jailed in the U.S. from 1997 to 2006 for heroin trafficking after being arrested with senior members of the Rizzuto family, including Emanuel Raguso. By 2011, Tse and his family had left Toronto and moved to Hong Kong. Around this time he teamed up with Chung Chak 'John' Lee to form the meth syndicate that became Sam Gor. Their innovation was guaranteed delivery. If a dealer paid for drugs, he’d receive them. If they were seized, Sam Gor would replace them at no cost.

Chung Chak 'John' Lee
Guaranteed delivery was possible because production costs were negligible. This was the idea on which they built an empire. Synthetic drugs are cheap to produce. It takes hundreds of farmers to generate a tonne of heroin. It takes few workers in a lab to make a tonne of meth.
The materials to make meth, pseudoephedrine, anhydrous ammonia and red phosphorus, are cheap, less than $1,000 a tonne in some cases, and widely available in Asia. A kilo of meth cost dealers in Myanmar $4k. It would then sell for $200k in the streets of Australia. By the late 2010s, Sam Gor accounted for 70% of the meth in Australia. Australians spent $8.5b on 11.5 tonnes of meth, two-thirds of it cooked in the Golden Triangle. Sam Gor controlled between 40% and 70% of the $90b Asian market, dominating the trade in the Philippines, South Korea and Japan. In 2019, after a huge bust, Australian cops posted an international warrant for Tse’s arrest with Interpol. Tse got on a flight back to Canada, but a stopover in Amsterdam sunk him. The moment he stepped off the plane at Schiphol airport, he was arrested.