Thailand Arrests High-Ranking Triad Who Laundered Drug Money at Crown Melbourne

Posted on: February 8, 2021, 01:06h. 

Last updated on: February 8, 2021, 03:09h.

A reputed triad drugs boss accused of laundering millions through the Crown Melbourne Casino’s VIP rooms was arrested in Thailand in December, authorities in the southeast Asian nation said.

Lee Chung Chak.
This grainy, low-resolution image is allegedly one of the few photos of high-ranking triad Lee Chung Chak. (Image: Brisbane Times)

Lee Chung Chak is believed to be a high-ranking member of the 14K triad and of the notorious criminal organization “the Company.” Also known as Sam Gor, the Company is a super-syndicate formed by an alliance of previously warring triad factions. He is also believed to be the right-hand man of Tse Chi Lop, dubbed “Asia’s El Chapo.” Tse is the reputed leader of the Company. He was arrested last month in Amsterdam.

The two men were imprisoned together in the US in the 1980s after they were convicted of smuggling heroin into the country.

Lee, 65, was apprehended in October at his apartment in an affluent district of Bangkok, authorities said. Both men were detained after Australian federal police put out a notice to international law enforcement agencies demanding their arrests.

Lee is currently fighting extradition to Australia, claiming mistaken identity, while Tse is in prison in the Netherlands, where a court has yet to rule on his extradition.

Billions in Revenues

The arrests represent a huge coup for Australian law enforcement against one of the biggest narcotics smuggling organizations in the world. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates the Company made up to US$17 billion from methamphetamine trafficking in the Asia-Pacific region alone in 2018.

The Company is believed to be responsible for up to 70 percent of all illegal drugs trafficked into Australia over the past 20 years.

The two men are expected to be charged in Australia with importing illicit drugs a decade ago, according to Reuters. Authorities have them on tape discussing supplying a Melbourne drugs ring with millions of dollars’ worth of heroin and methylamphetamine.

Police say they cracked the code the Company used to communicate with the gang. Its leader, a Melbourne greengrocer named Suky Lieu, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2015 for importing illegal drugs.

Drug Money Washed Via Junket Account

According to court records, Lieu and an associate, Ray Moo, laundered drug money through the Crown Melbourne via a VIP account owned by an Indonesian junket operator, the Madam Ang Junket Group, which employed Moo.

The money was then wired to several Bank of China accounts controlled by an individual named Kevin Zhang, who was an associate of Lee’s and would withdraw the money on Lee’s behalf.

The ease with which Crown Resorts allowed itself to be exploited by organized crime for the purposes of money laundering has prompted a public inquiry in New South Wales. That jeopardizes the company’s Sydney license.

A decision that will decide the fate of the $1.7 billion Crown Sydney is expected tomorrow, Feb. 9.