Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Hunt for Asia's El Chapo

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat TY Gus from Reuters


e is Asia’s most-wanted man. He is protected by a guard of Thai kickboxers. He flies by private jet. And, police say, he once lost $66 million in a single night at a Macau casino.

Tse Chi Lop, a Canadian national born in China, is suspected of leading a vast multinational drug trafficking syndicate formed out of an alliance of five of Asia’s triad groups, according to law enforcement officials. Its members call it simply “The Company.” Police, in a nod to one of Tse’s nicknames, have dubbed it Sam Gor, Cantonese for “Brother Number Three.”

The syndicate, law enforcers believe, is funneling tonnes of methamphetamine, heroin and ketamine to at least a dozen countries from Japan in North Asia to New Zealand in the South Pacific. But meth – a highly addictive drug with devastating physical and mental effects on long-term users – is its main business, they say.

In what it calls a conservative estimate, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) puts the Sam Gor syndicate’s meth revenue in 2018 at $8 billion a year, but says it could be as high as $17.7 billion. The UN agency estimates that the cartel, which often conceals its drugs in packets of tea, has a 40% to 70% share of the wholesale regional meth market that has expanded at least fourfold in the past five years.

This unprecedented boom in meth production has triggered an unprecedented response, Reuters has learned. Tse, 55, is the prime target of Operation Kungur, a sprawling, previously unreported counter-narcotics investigation. Led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Operation Kungur involves about 20 agencies from Asia, North America and Europe. It is by far the biggest ever international effort to combat Asian drug trafficking syndicates, say law enforcement agents involved in the investigation. It encompasses authorities from Myanmar, China, Thailand, Japan, the United States and Canada. Taiwan, while not formally part of the operation, is assisting in the investigation.

A document containing AFP profiles of the operation’s top 19 syndicate targets, reviewed by Reuters, identifies Tse as the leader of the syndicate. According to the document, the organization has “been connected with or directly involved in at least 13 cases” of drug trafficking since January 2015. The document does not provide specific details of the cases.

A Taiwanese law enforcement flow chart identifies Tse as the “Multinational CEO” of the syndicate. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) intelligence document shared with regional government agencies says Tse is “believed to be” the leader of the Sam Gor syndicate.

Police have not publicly identified Tse as the suspected boss of the trafficking group.

Some investigators say that the scope of the syndicate’s operation puts Tse, as the suspected leader, on par with Latin America’s most legendary narco-traffickers. “Tse Chi Lop is in the league of El Chapo or maybe Pablo Escobar,” said Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia and Pacific representative for UNODC. “The word kingpin often gets thrown around, but there is no doubt it applies here.”

Reuters was unable to contact Tse Chi Lop. In response to questions from Reuters, the AFP, the DEA and Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau said they would not comment on investigations.

During the past year, Reuters crisscrossed the Asia-Pacific to uncover the story of Tse and his Sam Gor network. This included interviews with more than two dozen law enforcement officials from eight countries, and reviews of intelligence reports from police and anti-narcotics agencies, court filings and other documents. Reuters spoke to militia leaders in Myanmar’s Shan State, the heart of Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle, where the syndicate is suspected of mass producing drugs in so-called super-labs. Reuters reporters also visited the Thai compound of one of the syndicate’s alleged drug lords.

What emerges is a portrait of an organization that is truly transnational. Four of the 19 Sam Gor syndicate leaders on the AFP list are Canadian citizens, including Tse, whom police often refer to as “T1” - the top target. Others hail from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam and mainland China.

The syndicate is enormously wealthy, disciplined and sophisticated - in many ways more sophisticated than any Latin American cartel, say anti-narcotics officials. Sam Gor supplies a bigger, more dispersed drug market and collaborates with a more diverse range of local crime groups than the Latin cartels do, including Japan’s Yakuza, Australia's biker gangs and ethnic Chinese gangs across Southeast Asia.

The crime network is also less prone to uncontrolled outbreaks of internecine violence than the Latin cartels, police say. The money is so big that long-standing, blood-soaked rivalries among Asian crime groups have been set aside in a united pursuit of gargantuan profits.

“The crime groups in Southeast Asia and the Far East operate with seamless efficiency,” says one veteran Western anti-drugs official. “They function like a global corporation.”

Like most of the law enforcement agents Reuters interviewed, the investigator spoke on condition of anonymity.

In addition to the contrasts between their drug operations, there’s another, more personal, difference between Tse Chi Lop and Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman or Pablo Escobar. The jailed Mexican cartel boss and the deceased Colombian cocaine trafficker have been feted in song and on screen for their extravagant lifestyles and extreme violence. Precious little has been revealed about Tse’s life and career. Unlike the Latin drug lords, Tse is relatively discreet - and still free.

Tse Chi Lop (top row and bottom row, far right) is suspected by law enforcement agencies of running Asia’s biggest drug network, which distributes high-grade meth across the region that is often hidden in loose-leaf tea packaging. Police have raided some of the syndicate’s operations, but that hasn’t stemmed the overall flow of meth. Click on image to enlarge....


41 comments:

  1. The Chinese families have always had an advantage in production and distribution.
    A good book for reference and interesting reading:

    The Underground Empire -
    Where Crime and Governments Embrace
    by James Mills
    Doubleday, New York, 1986

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  2. How do you lose $66,000,000 @ a casino in Macau and be Asias #1 wanted fugitive? Are we to believe that nobody @ the casino knew who he was? Why aren't his bank accounts frozen? How does he not have a Interpol Red notice on all travel?

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    1. Too much money being paid out in corruption there’s a agreement to not bust him obviously he must be protected by 1000’s he’s feeding too many people just like El Chapo was until the government of Peña did him dirty.

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    2. Dude the casinos do ANYTHING to enable a guy who is prepared to loose 66 million. The next night he is allowed to win back 40 million and suddenly he has laundered 40 million for a fee of 22 million.

      How about that hooser?

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  3. It was a very interesting read until The 2018 meth revenue 8-17 billion. C'mon law enforcement let's keep it real!

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    1. Lol I thought the same thing. 8-17 billion.....suuuuuure.

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    2. lol. for reals 😂😂

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  4. You kidding me? That guy is protected by the chinese government. Chinese governemnt sends all chemicals to make meth to philippine, mexico, usa europe. His cover is blown and china has no choice but to eliminate him. Never trust the chinese government.

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  5. I wonder what they think of Mexicans operating in their territory. My guess is they don't mind since their revenue is so much they can share the territory.

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  6. I have been given credible information that chinese attorneys in chinatown in Las Vegas have been laundering Billions of dollars of dirty money for the Chinese mafia working out of Las Vegas. i suggest that all FBI, DEA, and CIA agents move to Las Vegas. You will be real real busy.

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    1. damn bro are you related to Tekashi 69 cause with all that snitching and dry snitching your doing one could easily come to that conclusion 😂🙈🙉🙊🔫🔫🏩

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    2. 406, word is that's not true and why dont you go back to you rabbit hole motel on the old strip. Arribe China!!! Way more to this story but just a little insite...

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    3. c'mon man the way you sing like a canary on the 1st day of spring, u know dam well nobody giving you credible information.

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    4. Thank you Mr. Wong. Kind of strange you want to protect them. Don't worry the FBI has been monitoring these things for many years. Are you next?

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    5. The FBI and NSA know the identities and whereabouts of every person who posts on this Blog. They know when an Ant farts in Egypt. No disrespect to BB. Any if those agencies with three letters can hack into anything and surveil anyone. People don't get arrested for political and economic reasons. BTW, just heard Mexico going to legalize MOTA for personal use and sale very soon.

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  7. No disrespect...I just wanna know how you pronounce his first name... (at first I thought it was abbreviations to a company)

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  8. What makes the triads strong is that there United and have a strong structure, mexican capo would be stronger if they weren't allways fighting and breaking the apart.. But then again, the U.S isn't always capturing the main capo so there really isn't any reason to fight. The reason there is like 100 mexican cartels is that the head always gets caught and that's when cartels split and break off in two and it just keeps going. Just look at zetas and golfo, when Guillen got captured they split and then again and now there's like 20 zeta/golfo cells

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    1. What’s most amazing is that the US govt still thinks capturing capos is the solution 🤦🏼‍♂️

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  9. That’s an incredible amount of money, there has to be hundreds of people on payroll.

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  10. arriba el señor de china 🇨🇳 🍚 estamos ala orden desde Aguascalientes

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  11. Does this guy have a corrido or some type of K-pop song written after him?! If not don’t you ever compare him to el chapo.

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  12. Been saying it forever, asians are running the game! Even in mex! And I’m Mexican!

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  13. Asian mafia, aka Asian triads, Chinese Mafia, Vietnamese Mafia, biggest criminal organizations, as a whole worldwide. Mexican cartels not as big. But, in USA, you will notice arrests of Chinese Mafia, for example, are next to non-existent. Whereas arrests of Mexican Cartel members is pervasive. Why? Are the Chinese that smart or does US Govt. Say hands off. It's politics. They own 5000 massage parlors, traffic drugs and women, launder money, sell weapons, Fraudulent Schemes, Murder, Extorsion. Almost never get caught. Amazing. Or maybe I'm wrong.

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    1. The Overseas Chinese use sophisticated underground banking systems that are virtually impenetrable by Westerners. Through the Bamboo Network, ethnic Chinese dominate the economies and drug networks of Southeast Asian countries.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo_network

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    2. I live in the San Gabriel Valley, Asians have taken over. And you're right my friend.

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    3. Chinese prefer Canada to the US.

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    4. Of course it’s intentional think about how much easier it is for an Asian to come to this country and study and become a professional. Or for an Asian professional to come here and continue their career. There is undeniable government favoritism among the races. Even the term Asian is too general because this favoritism doesn’t apply to all Asians. Like Ali Wong says you got 2 kinds of Asian. “Jungle” Asian and “fancy” Asian. Government favors the fancy over the jungle almost every time in every place

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    5. U.S doesn't have the privilege to go and arrest that guy like in Mexico.

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    6. Vancouver, BC.

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  14. The Asians particularly Chinese were the 1st known society, or culture...The Orient...they invented the game. They are light years ahead of everyone else. They own America. They are an honorable syndicate. Betrayals are usually only internal power grabs. It's dishonorable to rat, disrespect, or betray your enemies. If their codes are broken, justice is swift, and can be brutal, but they've always understood, that excessive violence is bad for business. They are humble, so they enjoy their riches in private. Subtlety is paramount. Nothing is ever done hastily, or with emotion. To them it's all about the money, and honor.

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  15. Mexican capos have sicarios for protection, Chinese have kárate fighters

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    1. Wrong, they have many hitmen and they sell some seriously powerful weapons, but the greatest power they have is governments, infrastructure, and Billion and Billions of dollars. China, ie. has 10 largest banks in the world. great washing machines

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  16. He probably wouldn’t like being compared to a rat

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  17. Ya this guy is nothing like the Latino cartel leaders he don’t have songs about him ja ja he’s so discreet that he losses millions at the casinos and the fact we are even reading about him is totally not discreet thers a big difference with these guys ther government is backing them too the max plus thers so many dame people in ther countries you can do what you want and nobody even notices a thinki and come on you know these people see a product that is making money and they bootleg it from fake purses shoes guns whatever and if they have all the chemicals to make it at ther feet and most others have to get it shipped to them so basically ther cutting the cost by say half and probably make the drugs in state of the art factory

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    1. Yea, Chinese government is nothing like the Mexican government that sells out their country and their people for a dollar bill.. I doubt Chinese would let a Navy seal take one of their capos like in 🇲🇽 so this guy will NEVER get captured

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  18. All that money and you can't even flaunt it openly. Isn't that one of the reasons to get rich? Flaunt it and make others feel envious?

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  19. Why not give a byline to Tim Allard? The person who researched and wrote the article?! Weird standards here. I get when you guys put in the time and work to translate... but this is cut and paste with no credit to the journalist

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    1. we always link to original article if we republish as we did here....in the first line at top

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  20. lol led by australian law enforcement? jaja theyre a joke..no way theyll get close to this guy if their taking the lead

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