Mexico drug cartel actively operating in Philippines, says Duterte

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday confirmed that a major Mexican drug cartel is actively operating in the Philippines via transshipment.

Duterte said the Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa is using the Philippines as an intermediate destination due to challenges in directly reaching the United States. The Sinaloa cartel is reputed to be the largest source of illegal drugs to the US.

"Is Mexico into us? Yes, Sinaloa of Mexico, iyong cartel nila. Tayo ang transshipment. Kasi in-interdict sila ng mga Amerikano, talagang binobomba sila so dito sila sa transshipment," Duterte said during a courtesy call of the volunteers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting at Malacañan.

"And for the Philippines the right side hemisphere dito sa South America, active dito is the Sinaloa. I'm telling you now. I will never, never, never hoist a lie on you. That is the truth," the president added.

Duterte said that if he will not be able to curb illegal drugs in the country, no other president can ever solve the problem.

"Seven years from now, double the addicts, by the increase, then we will have the narcopolitics," Duterte said.

Duterte said he is willing to put his presidency and life at stake as he continues the fight against illegal drugs.

"Okay lang sa'kin whatever happens… Itong problema ng bayan especially drugs,  I'm putting at stake my honor, my life and the presidency," he said, adding that he does not care whether coup d'etat is launched against him.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency confirmed in 2013 the presence of the Sinaloa cartel. The agency said the cartel sells shabu, a nickname for a form of methamphetamine, in the country.

RELATED: Mexican drug cartel now in Phl – PDEA

In 2013, shabu worth P420 million was confiscated in an operation in Batangas and was traced to the Mexican Sinaloa drug syndicate.

Last year, the Department of Justice also indicted a Mexican man believed to be a leader of the cartel. Horacio Hernandez Herrera filed petition for bail before the Makati City Regional Trial Court after he pleaded not guilty to the charge of selling 2.2 kilos of cocaine with a street value of around P12 million.

Meanwhile, Sinaloa cartel's top gun Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, America's most wanted drug trafficker, escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001 and was able to break out for a second time 18 months later. He was considered by Forbes as the most powerful criminal on the planet.

Guzman was again arrested in 2016. 

—Video by Efigenio Toledo IV

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