Thanks to the Eastern District of New York’s Chief of International Narcotics and Money Laundering, Gina Parlovecchio, Shadow Banker has in its exclusive possession the 1997 Department of Justice indictment that names billionaire meth kingpin Chi Lop Tse, AKA “brother number 3,” as a co-defendant.
Tse, a 55-year-old Chinese-born naturalized Canadian who has reportedly orchestrated a modern-day Corleone power move, uniting China’s five biggest Triad families all under his rule as the supreme ‘Dragon Head,’ was relatively small-time 22 years ago.
The Sam Gor syndicate leader, who got his start ‘putting in work’ for the Guangzhou-based ‘Big Circle Boys’ gang when he immigrated to Toronto, is doing Pablo numbers now – and he has been for at least the last three years. *As an aside, Shadow Banker’s clandestine sources maintain that the city of Guangzhou is a global epicenter for trade-based money laundering*.
Authorities realized they had stumbled on a signficant drug trafficking organization in November 2016, after the chance arrest of a trafficker named Cai Jeng Ze in Myanmar’s Yangon Airport. According to Jeremy Douglas, the regional representative of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime for Southeast Asia, cops used Israeli phone-hacking tool Cellebrite to jalbreak Cai’s iPhone, revealing an ‘Aladdin’s cave of intel.’
The UNODC Plugs Shadow Banker
Douglas pegs the annual proceeds of the Sam Gor syndicate between $8 billion and $17.7 billion a year, wholesale. The syndicate primarily pumps its crystal, reportedly the purest and most potent ice in the history of the world, throughout the Asia-Pacific region, namely Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian nations.
How is Tse’s operation able to generate such staggering profits, which at the high-end estimate would comprise nearly a third of a regional meth market conservatively sized at $61 billion by the UNODC?
Consider that a kilo of ice, which costs $1,800 to produce in Myanmar’s militia-ruled Shan State, can fetch upwards of $200,000 at wholesale value once it crosses the Indian Ocean and clears customs in Australia. Douglas told Shadow Banker that Aussie outlaw motorcycle gangs, called ‘bikies’ locally, like the Nomads and Hells Angels push most of the work in the land down under.
According to Reuters journalist Tom Allard’s bombshell report, the fruit of a two-year-long investigative odyssey that totally PWNs anything Shadow Banker has ever done in his life: “Shan’s super-labs produce the purest crystal meth in the world, the senior Chinese counter-narcotics official told Reuters. ‘They can take it slow and spread (the meth) out on the ground and let it dry.'”
Green Crystal Methamphetamine Southern Shan State, Myanmar, source: UNODC
The Last Temptation of Shadow Banker…
To be perfectly honest with the reader, reports of this hielo’s purity made Shadow Banker curious – maybe a little too curious. But then he remembered all of the living dead, tweaker-junkies who inundated his once-idyllic seaside village community in Santa Monica, repeatedly defecated in his covered parking spot in the alley and vandalized his car and apartment fuse box, and turned what was 10 years ago, the best place to live in L.A., into a post-apocalyptic wasteland reminiscent of Mad Max.
He also recalled his 28-year-old, ‘Peckerwoods’ white-prison-gang-affiliated neighbor, who descended into hardcore intravenous meth addiction, because some stupid ex-girlfriend got him hooked on ‘chemsex.’
Before eventually getting locked up for assaulting his father and getting transferred to a supermax at some point, according to his dad, Shadow Banker‘s neighbor was mainlining enough Sinaloan cristal to give a full-grown elephant a coronary.
Being jolted out of bed late one Summer night in 2018 by the violent sounds of Five-O pounding on the family’s apartment door on the other side of the complex, screaming “SANTA MONICA POLICE, COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP,” in response to the domestic assault, is a memory that is still crystal-clear in Shadow Banker‘s mind.
So a quick retrospective of these happenings from his bygone Angeleno past promptly reminded our muckracking anti-hero that he was not a complete imbecile like everybody who wilfully tries crystal meth today is, without a single exception, after decades of public information clearly proves the health hazards of ingesting this neurotoxin.
On the bright side, Shadow Banker‘s ex-neighbor is reportedly out of the box, ‘clean,’ living with his rents again and recovering from his poor life choices. So contrary to popular belief, there is hope. But Shadow Banker remains skeptical. Meth-induced neuronal murder and brain damage doesn’t just magically heal itself.
According to Allard who wrote the defining exposé on Tse last October, the future Dragon Head “shuttled between North America, Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia” in the early 90s. Tse “rose to become a mid-ranking member of a smuggling ring that sourced heroin from the Golden Triangle, the lawless opium-producing region where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand, China and Laos meet,” according to Allard.
In October 1997, Tse and twelve other people were indicted by the EDNY for “knowingly and intentionally” conspiring to import heroin into the United States between 1992 and 1994. Tse was arrested by Hong Kong authorities and extradited in ’97. He was arraigned in an EDNY courtroom in ’98, according to the Reuters story.
A review of the case docket, which Shadow Banker will be more than happy to provide if you fund him via his Patreon page, indicates that two unindicted co-conspirators, Li Wing Foo and Ho Siu, likely ratted him out.
Ex-undercover Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs agent Robert ‘The Infiltrator’ Mazur, analyzed the docket for Shadow Banker and explained why this snitch hypothesis clicks.
“Clearly, Tse’s co-conspirator’s rolled on him, which is what caused him to cooperate,” said Mazur. “The docket showed the FBI picking them up and taking them to the FBI and to the U.S. Attorney’s Offices. They didn’t have court hearings on those days. After those trips, they entered guilty pleas.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind their cooperation required testifying against the defendants still pending trial, and he was being held without bond at that time and was demanding discovery,” said Mazur.
Using open-source intelligence databases like Radaris and Spokeo, Shadow Banker tried to locate Foo and Siu, but alas, no dice. He then reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to see if Tse’s former co-defendants were in WitSec. A spokesperson for the Bureau told Shadow Banker that the FBI cannot comment on the whereabouts of witnesses, even 22 years after the fact.
Shadow Banker also found it remarkable that Jodi Avergun, one of the former U.S. attorneys who prosecuted Tse, claimed to have “no recollection” of the man who would be Dragon Head.
Additionally, one of Tse’s former defense attorneys, Barry Schulman told Shadow Banker “I have no files from that time concerning Chi Lop Tse. Also, I have no comment about his case. Thank you.”
As an interesting aside, one of Tse’s other bulldog defense lawyers, Robert Simels, who represented notorious criminals like Henry Hill and Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, was convicted of witness tampering in 2009 in a case where he was advocating “excessively” for infamous Guyanese cocaine kingpin Shaheed Khan. Thus far, Simels is 10 years into a 14-year bid.
Cosa Nostra Ties
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the 1997 indictment is Tse’s Italian co-defendants, known Rizutto crime family capos Sabatino ‘Sammy’ Nicolucci and Emanuele Ragusa.
Described as a “prodigious and storied Quebec drug trafficker and money launderer” by Canada’s National Post newspaper, Nicolucci skillfully navigated the global world of organized crime and formed strategic alliances with the Triads, the Sicilian mafia and Colombia’s Cali Cartel.
In fact, Nicolucci was kidnapped by the Cali henchmen outside of a Montreal strip club he managed for stiffing the cartel on 280 kilos of blow he claimed to be of poor quality. Cartel enforcers smuggled Sammy out of Canada, drove him down to Miami and jetted him back to Colombia for a sit-down with los ‘Caballeros de Cali.’
Miraculously, “Nicolucci — who was always a good talker — negotiated a deal with his kidnappers; his life would be spared and he would work off his debt as an indentured servant for the cartel in Colombia,” according to the Post.
But just like that Nelly Furtado song – which holds special sentimental significance to Shadow Banker – all good things come to an end: Sammy was extradited back to North America to face justice.
In fact, Mazur who infiltrated the Cali cartel posing as a money launderer in Panama, was an expert witness at Nicolucci’s drug-trafficking trial in Montreal.
“I analyzed wiretap recordings of him with others, bank records, and other evidence to opine that he was receiving large quantities of cocaine from senior players in the Cali Cartel. During the recorded calls, he used a lot of the code words I was familiar with because I infiltrated the Cali Cartel as a money launderer for two-and-half years during the early 90’s,” said Mazur.
“His lawyer tried to claim that his client was not involved in cocaine trafficking, and claimed he was involved in smuggling untaxed cigarettes. His defense didn’t work. I explained the true meaning of the conversations to the jury and why I was certain about what they were talking about,” added the ex-undercover.
In the New Year, Shadow Banker will publish a more in-depth and formal probe into Tse and his Sam Gor syndicate with a focus on the tactics his organization is using to launder their monstrous, Fortune-500-like proceeds.
To read the PDF of Tse’s indictment, please register with the Shadow Banker’s Intelligence Community. And if you enjoyed the writing, please fund the Shadow Banker on Patreon.
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