Zhong Ze Li Wiki
Biography of Lee Jong-taek
Who is Li Zhongze?
An alleged drug cartel boss has arrived in Australia in handcuffs and designer ropes while facing charges of importing 40kg of methamphetamine into the country.
Chung Chak Lee, 66, was extradited from Thailand on Saturday after being wanted by the Australian Federal Police for ten years.
Police said he was the right-hand man for The Company, a notorious drug empire with annual revenues of $23 billion.
It is understood that Lee is second only to Chi Lop Tse known as El Chapo of Asia. He was arrested in Bangkok in October 2020 and spent 18 months in a Thai prison before being extradited to Melbourne on a Singapore Airlines flight.
His arrest was a major blow to the cartel, which imported as much as 70% of Australia’s methamphetamine from Asia and was accused of laundering money through Crown Casino.
Australian police spent more than a decade searching for Li, working with authorities in as many as 20 countries to monitor and eventually arrest him. He is ranked sixth on Australia’s most wanted list.
The 66-year-old arrived in Australia wearing a black Armani T-shirt and Balenciaga sunglasses.
“This is an important milestone after years of ongoing investigative work by AFP and our partners,” Chrissy Barrett, deputy commissioner of the Australian Federal Police’s Southern Command, told The Daily Telegraph.
“We will charge the man as a senior criminal partner at the head of a prolific transnational organised crime syndicate involved in trafficking commercial quantities of controlled drugs across Australia and around the world.
“The Australian Federal Police has an international network of partners working to track down criminals and bring them to justice.
“If you commit a crime, there is nowhere to hide. AFP has the means and the patience to find you.
Li appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday afternoon charged with one count of trafficking in a commercial quantity of drugs.
El Chapo de Asia’ Tse Chi Lop arrested
His public defender declared a conflict of interest, so the case was delayed to ensure Lee could seek adequate representation.
The arrest is a major victory for Australian detectives as they work to dismantle the cartel.
Xie was dragged off a plane in the Netherlands in January 2021 after the Australian Federal Police issued an arrest request through the international police agency Interpol.
The Chinese-Canadian citizen nicknamed “The Asian Shorty” has been accused of being one of the world’s largest methamphetamine traffickers. He is the number one target of the Australian Federal Police.
Xie now faces extradition to Australia, where he could face trial on drug trafficking charges.
He allegedly oversees a consortium of five Chinese triads that distribute everything from heroin and ecstasy to ketamine through their “golden triangle” superlabs in Asia.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that Xie’s so-called network makes between $10 billion and $23 billion a year from organized crime.
Law enforcement agencies in about 20 countries, including the United States, Canada, Myanmar, China, Thailand and Japan, have been pursuing Tse since 2019 as part of Operation Kungur.
Finding Tse was difficult because he lived in the shadows most of the time and had a rotating team of Thai kickboxers at the back.
Despite his low profile, he is also known for his extravagant spending and wild parties. He has gambled $85 million a night in Macau casinos, flew private jets and hosted lavish parties at five-star hotels and resorts.
Lee Jong-taek Fast and Facts
- Accused drug lord extradited to Australia after 10 years wanted
- Lee Jong-taek has long been considered the right-hand man of Asia’s “shorties”
- Police say he trafficked at least 40kg of drugs, mostly methamphetamine, into Melbourne