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Accused lieutenant of ‘Asia’s El Chapo’ arrested in Australia for billion dollar drug trafficking

Pictured: Chung Chak Lee

An accused drug cartel kingpin has arrived in Australia in handcuffs and designer threads as he faces charges of importing 40kg worth of meth into the country.

Chung Chak Lee, 66, was extradited from Thailand on Saturday after a decade-long stint on the Australian Federal Police’s most wanted list.

Police allege he is the right hand man in The Company, a notorious $23-billion-a-year drug running empire. 

Lee is understood to be second only to Chi Lop Tse, known as Asia’s El Chapo. He was arrested in Bangkok in October 2020 and has spent 18 months languishing inside a Thai prison before he was extradited to Melbourne on a Singapore Airlines flight.

His arrest is a significant blow to the cartel, which brings in up to 70 per cent of Australia’s meth from Asia and has been accused of laundering money through Crown Casino.

Australian police spent more than a decade hunting for Lee – working with authorities from up to 20 nations to monitor and eventually capture him. He was sixth on Australia’s most wanted list. 

The 66-year-old arrived in Australia wearing a black Armani shirt and Balenciaga sunglasses. 

Chung Chak Lee, 66, was extradited from Thailand on Saturday after a decade-long stint on the Australian Federal Police's most wanted list

Chung Chak Lee, 66, was extradited from Thailand on Saturday after a decade-long stint on the Australian Federal Police’s most wanted list

It's understood Lee is second only to Chi Lop Tse, known as Asia's El Chapo. Lee was arrested in Bangkok in October 2020 and has spent 18 months languishing inside a Thai prison before he was extradited to Melbourne on the Singapore Airlines flight

It’s understood Lee is second only to Chi Lop Tse, known as Asia’s El Chapo. Lee was arrested in Bangkok in October 2020 and has spent 18 months languishing inside a Thai prison before he was extradited to Melbourne on the Singapore Airlines flight

His arrest has been a significant blow to the cartel, which brings up to 70 per cent of Australia's ice in from Asia and has laundered money through Crown Casino

His arrest has been a significant blow to the cartel, which brings up to 70 per cent of Australia’s ice in from Asia and has laundered money through Crown Casino

‘This is a significant milestone after years of persistent investigative work by the AFP and our partners,’ Krissy Barrett, Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner for Southern Command, told the Daily Telegraph. 

‘We will allege the man is a senior criminal associate of the head of a prolific transnational organised crime syndicate involved in trafficking commercial quantities of border controlled drugs within Australia and around the world. 

‘The Australian Federal Police has an international network of partners that are committed to pursuing offenders and bringing them to justice. 

‘If you commit an offence, there is nowhere to hide. The AFP has the means and the patience to track you down.’ 

Lee appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday afternoon charged with one count of trafficking a commercial quantity of drugs. 

Lee appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday afternoon charged with one count of trafficking a commercial quantity of drugs

Lee appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday afternoon charged with one count of trafficking a commercial quantity of drugs

The arrest is a major win for Australian detectives as they work to dismantle the cartel

The arrest is a major win for Australian detectives as they work to dismantle the cartel

His legal aid lawyer declared a conflict on interest, so the case was delayed to ensure Lee could seek adequate representation. 

The arrest is a major win for Australian detectives as they work to dismantle the cartel. 

In January 2021, Tse was dragged off a plane in the Netherlands after Australian Federal Police issued a request for his arrest through international law-enforcement agency Interpol. 

An alleged drug lord dubbed 'Asia's El Chapo' Tse Chi Lop (pictured) was arrested in the Netherlands

An alleged drug lord dubbed ‘Asia’s El Chapo’ Tse Chi Lop (pictured) was arrested in the Netherlands

The Chinese-born Canadian national dubbed ‘Asia’s El Chapo’ is accused of being one of the world’s biggest meth traffickers. He was the number one target of the Australian Federal Police. 

Tse is now facing extradition to Australia, where he could face trial on charges of drug trafficking. 

He allegedly oversees an alliance of five Chinese Triads that distribute everything from heroin and MDMA to ketamine via its ‘Golden Triangle’ super-labs in Asia.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates Tse’s alleged network rakes in between $10 billion and $23 billion a year from organised crime. 

Law enforcement agencies from about 20 countries – including the US, Canada, Myanmar, China, Thailand and Japan – have been hunting Mr Tse as part of Operation Kungur since 2019. 

Finding Tse was complicated by him living largely in the shadows and having a rotating crew of Thai kickboxers as guards. 

Despite his low profile, he is also known for his outlandish spending and wild parties. He once gambled away $85 million in a single night at a Macau casino, and flew in private jets and hosted lavish parties at five-star hotels and resorts. 

The Chinese-born Canadian national is suspected of being one of the world's biggest meth dealers and thought to be responsible for up to 70 per cent of all narcotics entering Australia

The Chinese-born Canadian national is suspected of being one of the world’s biggest meth dealers and thought to be responsible for up to 70 per cent of all narcotics entering Australia

WHO IS ASIA’S EL CHAPO?

Chi Lop Tse was born in Southern China’s Guangdong Province in 1964 and in his youth became a low-ranking member of the Big Circle Triad gang.

He moved to Canada during the 1980s.

In 1996, Tse was arrested in the US by the FBI for his role in a drug smuggling operation bringing in heroin from Asia’s Golden Triangle.

He served nine years in prison were he made connections with a notorious 14K Triad boss Wan Kuok Ko – who goes by the name ‘Broken Tooth’.

Police in up to 20 countries accuse Tse of being the kingpin of The Company – an association of five Chinese Triads that traffic billions of dollars in drugs including meth, heroin, MDMA and Ketamine every year. 

A record 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine were seized on the west coast of Australia with eight men charged. The deal is alleged to be linked to The Company

A record 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine were seized on the west coast of Australia with eight men charged. The deal is alleged to be linked to The Company

He owns private jets and once gambled away $85million in a single night at a Macau casino. 

Despite his jet-setting lifestyle, the pudgy 57-year-old looks more like an office worker than a cartel boss.

Australian Federal Police ordered an INTERPOL red notice for his arrest on Friday in relation to a number of drug trafficking offences alleged to have been carried out in Australia.

The AFP plan to extradite the accused drug kingpin back to Australia to face trial.

He is thought to be responsible for 70 per cent of all narcotics entering Australia.

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