ROTTERDAM -A Dutch court on Friday approved an Australian request to hand over the alleged leader of an Asian drug syndicate who has been compared to Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian national, was arrested in January at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport at the request of Australian police while in transit from Taiwan to Canada.
The defence said it would appeal, and the matter will be decided by the Dutch Supreme Court. A final decision on extradition will be taken by the Dutch government.
Tse has denied wrongdoing and contested his arrest, saying the Australian authorities in effect engineered his expulsion from Taiwan to Canada on a flight with a stopover in the Netherlands so that he could be detained there.
The defendant is alleged to have led a drug syndicate which is dominant in the Asia-Pacific crystal methamphetamine trade, which increased fourfold in the five years to 2019, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia and Pacific representative for the U.N. drugs agency UNODC, told in 2019 that “Tse Chi Lop is in the league of El Chapo or maybe Pablo Escobar,” referring to Latin America’s most notorious drug lords.
Tse has denied he is a drug kingpin.
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Writing by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Jon Boyle and Timothy Heritage)