One of the world’s most wanted gangsters, Roland “Mr. Big” Tan, has died of cardiac arrest at the age of 72. It happened while he was hosting a dinner party in his Copenhagen home.
Tan has been on the run from authorities in Singapore since the 1960s for an alleged gangland murder over half a decade ago.
Tan built a huge, multi-million-dollar drug empire while living in Holland, serving many European countries and even countries as far away as Australia and Asia. In the 1970s, he was a co-founder of the Ah Kong crime syndicate in Holland and controlled the European drug market after winning a war with the 14K Hong Kong Triad.
Tan moved to Copenhagen in 1984, opening a restaurant and nightclub called Bali, which became extremely popular. Cutting ties with the Ah Kong, Tan went solo into new drug markets around the world and accumulated a large stock and real estate portfolio.
Tan was well known for his gaudy clothing and ‘chatty’ relationship with the Dutch media, which catapulted his infamous status to new heights all over Europe.
In 2009, Tan narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by a Vietnamese ex-bodyguard. The bodyguard shot him in the shoulder on the same day as he was having an extravagant birthday party at Bali’s.
After the assassination attempt, Tan decided to flee to Cambodia until he returned to Denmark sometime in 2019.
His funeral took place in Copenhagen and was attended by some of the crème de la crème of the business world and the criminal world. This included members of the Sicilian mafia, the Yakuza, Hells Angels and Banditos bikers, representatives of Tokyo and Swiss banks, and the Triads.
Tan grew up on the streets of Singapore in the 1960s and quickly became feared and known as someone not to mess with. As a teenager, he was already a hitman for the Triads and head of a gang of youths that worked alongside them.
In 1969, Singapore prosecutors insist that Tan was responsible for the killing of Lam Chew Siew, a rival gang member, on orders of a Triad boss.
Tan held the top spot on Singapore’s most wanted list for 50 years. In 1973 he was very close to getting extradited back home to face charges for the Lam Chew Siew murder. Tan managed to avoid extradition with the help of good lawyers who convinced an Amsterdam judge to rule that there was not enough evidence to extradite or convict. Ultimately, this blocked Singapore officials from continuing to go after him.