One Nondescript Man Reinvented the Drug Trade

'Toronto Life' calls Tse Chi Lop the Jeff Bezos of his world
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2021 9:40 AM CST
One Nondescript Man Reinvented the Drug Trade
Bags of methamphetamine seized in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Tse Chi Lop's organization flooded the nation with the drug, say prosecutors.   (Australian Border Force via AP)

(Newser) – Tse Chi Lop is widely referred to as "Asia's El Chapo." But a profile at Toronto Life by Stephen Marche makes the case that the comparison is off by a mile. El Chapo was a violent drug lord whose cartel was worth maybe $3 billion in its heyday. That's chump change for Tse, whose syndicate—called Sam Gor to outsiders and The Company to those within it—pulls in an estimated $21 billion annually. That's on par with Citibank, notes Marche. What's more, Tse (currently imprisoned in Amsterdam) eschewed violence as too inefficient and expensive. Instead, he embraced modern, almost boring, business practices on his way to becoming the "biggest drug lord in history." For example, one linchpin policy is "guaranteed delivery." Which is why the more apt comparison is to a different figure: Tse, writes Marche, "is the Jeff Bezos of the drug trade."

The story traces Tse's rise from his native China to his move to Toronto in the 1980s. There, he learned his trade in the Big Circle Boys gang and helped set up a lucrative pipeline to get heroin from Asia through Canada and into the US. After a stint in prison, he realized the future was in synthetic drugs and began to unite criminal networks, smugglers, and dealers under Sam Gor to make and deliver meth and other drugs to North America and Australia. Thus, he "has run two of the largest drug networks in history, on different continents and in different decades," writes Marche. "He is a massive contradiction: a man who has arguably done more to spread human immiseration than any other person on the planet but whom everybody seems to like." Read the full story, which notes that Tse set up an organization so efficient that his own arrest will likely do little to dent its operation. (Read more drug lords stories.)

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