The alleged ringleader of Asia's biggest crime syndicate and one of the world's most wanted men has been arrested in the Netherlands, with Australian authorities pushing Sunday for his extradition to face trial.

Alleged drug lord dubbed ‘Asia’s El Chapo’ arrested in Amsterdam

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The alleged ringleader of Asia’s biggest crime syndicate and one of the world’s most wanted men has been arrested in the Netherlands, with Australian authorities pushing Sunday for his extradition to face trial.

Police had been chasing alleged drug kingpin Tse Chi Lop, 57, for years until his arrest by Dutch police on Friday acting on a request from Australia’s federal police.

In a statement Sunday, Australian authorities said a man “of significant interest” to law enforcement agencies had been detained. A police spokeswoman confirmed his name as Tse Chi Lop.

The Chinese-born Canadian citizen has been dubbed Asia’s “El Chapo” in reference to the nickname of Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman, now serving a life sentence in a US prison.

Dutch police spokesman Thomas Aling confirmed that “a suspect who figured on Europol’s list of the most wanted persons” was arrested on Friday morning after landing at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

Aling, speaking to AFP on Sunday, would not say where the flight originated.

“This person is currently incarcerated, waiting to see what will happen as it has to do with an Australian investigation,” Aling added.

“An extradition will take place at Australia’s request, and the matter will proceed like that.”

“Australia would like to have this gentleman,” he added, calling the suspect “a big boy” for Canberra.

Tse Chi Lop has been named by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as the suspected leader of the Asian mega-cartel known as “Sam Gor”, a major producer and supplier of methamphetamines globally.

Sam Gor is believed to launder its billions in drug money through businesses springing up in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region — including casinos, hotels and real estate.

Australia’s federal police said Friday’s arrest followed an operation that in 2012-13 nabbed 27 people linked to a crime syndicate spanning five countries.

The group were accused of importing “substantial quantities of heroin and methamphetamine” into Australia, long a lucrative market for drug traffickers.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime,” the Australian police said.

As part of the 2012-13 raids across Melbourne, police seized AUS$9 million (US$7 million) worth of assets, including cash, designer handbags, casino chips and jewellery.

– $60 billion market –
The arrest of Tse Chi Lop almost a decade after that operation’s launch is a major breakthrough for Australian authorities.

The country’s attorney-general will now begin preparing a formal extradition request for the alleged drug lord to face trial.

Most of Asia’s meth comes from “Golden Triangle” border areas between Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and southwest China which are pumping unprecedented quantities of synthetic drugs into global markets.

A UNODC study says Southeast Asia’s crime groups net more than $60 billion a year.

The production of methamphetamine — either in tablet “yaba” form or the highly potent crystallised “ice” version — as well as ketamine and fentanyl take place primarily in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state, but much of the precursor chemicals needed to cook them flows across the border from China.

Thailand in 2018 netted more than 515 million yaba tablets, 17 times the amount for the entire Mekong region a decade ago, the UNODC said.

Drug hauls feature almost daily in headlines across the region, with traffickers finding more creative ways to ship out their illicit products. (AFP)

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House panel OKs 10-year extension requiring banks to loan funds to MSMEs

By Billy Begas

The House Committees on Appropriation and on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development have approved the measure seeking to extend for 10 years the law mandating banks to allocate 10 percent of its loanable funds to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The still unnumbered measure, authored by Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva and CIBAC Rep. Domingo Rivera seeks to amend the Magna Carta for Small Enterprises (Republic Act 6577).

Under the law, all lending institutions are mandated to set aside at least eight percent for Micro and Small Enterprises and at least two percent for Medium Enterprises their total loan portfolio. The provision lapsed in 2018.

Villanueva said based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, as of March 2019, banks allocate a meager 2.72 percent of their loan portfolio to micro and small enterprises and 4.19 percent to medium enterprises.

“We owe our MSME sector a great deal. This bill is for them; karapat-dapat sila. It is only apt that we invest in them by ensuring availability of access to credit and government assistance and programs. They are our economy’s unsung heroes, comprising 99% of firms in our economy,” said Villanueva.

Other significant provisions of the proposals are as follows:

– National Government shall allocate at least 10% of its procurement needs to eligible MSMEs;

– Entitlement of registered MSMEs to 20% discount on shipping, delivery fees, mailing, freight, and other similar services for products and raw materials provided by either public or private

– 20% of total rentable spaces of private malls allocated for MSMEs at a 20% discount on rental payment;

-At least one percent of the total space available in all government buildings, structures, and open areas allotted for selling area of MSMEs

-At least 0.5 percent for every 5,000 square meters in private malls, supermarkets, shopping centers, commercial selling establishments, structures, or areas allotted for selling area to MSME stores

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