Police in the Netherlands have arrested the alleged head of one of the world’s biggest drugs organisations, on a warrant issued by Australia.
Chinese-born Canadian Tse Chi Lop is said to be the head of The Company, which dominates a US$70 billion illegal drugs market across Asia.
One of the world’s most wanted fugitives, Tse was detained at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Friday as he was about to board a flight to Canada.
Australia will now seek his extradition to face trial there.
The Australian federal police believe The Company, also known as the Sam Gor Syndicate, is responsible for up to 70% of all illegal drugs entering the country. They had reportedly been tracking Tse, 56, for more than a decade.
“He was already on the most-wanted list and he was detained based on intelligence we received,” a Dutch police spokesman said.
Reuters published a special investigation into Tse in 2019 – describing him as “Asia’s most wanted man”.
The news agency cited UN estimates as saying the syndicate’s revenue from methamphetamine sales alone could have been as high as US$17 billion in 2018.
Tse is rumoured to have moved between Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan in recent years and the effort to arrest him, Operation Kungur, involved about 20 agencies from countries across the globe.
He previously spent nine years in prison in the US for drug trafficking in the 1990s.
Australian media described his arrest as the “most important” for the country’s federal police in two decades.