Photo from abs-cbn news shows the Taiwanese-registered cargo vessel Jin Ming No.16, which encountered rough waters before sinking off Northern Samar at the height of Tropical Depression Agaton last Jan. 2.
AFP
‘Crewman admitted cocaine came from their sunken ship’
(The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A police official claimed yesterday that the 25 kilos of cocaine worth P125 million recovered at the shoreline of Sorsogon last Wednesday came from the Taiwanese cargo vessel that sank off Northern Samar at the height of Tropical Depression Agaton last Jan. 2.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said one of the rescued crew members of the M/V Jin Ming Nr. 16 admitted to authorities that the drugs came from their ship that sank off Pambujan, Northern Samar.

The source did not divulge the identity of the crewmember except that he is Taiwanese.

The vessel that left China on Dec. 12 was headed for Chile, according to authorities.

“The drugs were not intended for the Philippines but a country in Latin America,” the source said.

The ship reportedly came from Taiwan and was headed for South America when it encountered bad weather. Initial reports said the vessel was transporting liquor.

Capt. Gregorio Adel Jr., commander of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Eastern Visayas District, said that despite the strong waves brought by Agaton, the PCG team managed to make two trips to rescue all nine crewmembers that included six Chinese, two Hong Kong residents and one Taiwanese. 

Rescued were ship captain Lai Yi Kui, Chinese crew Xu Xi, Yin Gui Jin, Luwei Long, Xun Xi Long and Wuneng Jin. Also rescued were Hong Kong residents Hans Febie and Ho Sai Seong and Taiwanese Chen Xin Chuan.

The crew members were placed under government custody after authorities became suspicious because of the proximity of the cargo vessel from the place where the drugs were recovered.

It only takes around 45 minutes of travel by sea from Sorsogon to Northern Samar, the source said.

Chief Supt. Gilbert Cruz, Eastern Visayas police director, said the case is still under investigation and  refused to disclose more details.

The regional police offices of Bicol and Eastern Samar, the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group and  the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) are involved in the investigation.

The PCG will start salvage operations tomorrow to refloat the Jin Ming.

Photo shows the rescued crewmen with members of the Philippine Coast Guard. AFP

Authorities are investigating if the cocaine came from a the ship that sank off Northern Samar last Jan. 2 at the height of Tropical Depression Agaton.

The PCG said the crew of the cargo ship M/V Jin Ming sent out a distress signal, saying their ship was sinking. 

Adel said the PCG would salvage and refloat Jin Ming to find evidence if the cocaine came from the vessel.

He said members of the salvage firm from Manila would arrive in Northern Samar tomorrow. 

Adel said there are rumors that the 25 packs of cocaine came from the Jin Ming that sank some 400 meters off Pambujan, Northern Samar last Jan. 2.

“I could not yet give updates as of now because the salvor is due to arrive on Monday from Manila. The salvaging operations would begin on Monday. We have to wait until the ship has resurfaced,” he said.

While waiting for the salvage team to arrive, Adel said he has dispatched divers to check on the condition of the steel-hulled ship and has started planning how to refloat the vessel. 

PCG spokesman Capt. Armand Balilo said PCG officer-in-charge Commodore Joel Garcia had ordered the local unit to secure the sunken ship.

There were reports that the cocaine could be part of a drug shipment recovered by fishermen off Tiwi, Albay last Dec. 18.

Police officials sit next to packs of cocaine found inside a plastic drum which washed up on the shore of Sorsogon. AFP

Chief Insp. Malou Calubaquib, Bicol police spokesperson, said yesterday laboratory examination conducted at Camp General Simeon Ola confirmed that the recovered items were high-grade cocaine and weigh about 25 kilos with an estimated street value of P5 million per kilo.

Senior Supt. Marlon Tejada, Sorsogon police director, said that a resident reported to the Matnog police the discovery of a blue plastic container at the shoreline  of Juag Lagoon, a fish sanctuary that is visited by tourists in Sorsogon.

Tejada said agents of the PDEA tested the contents of the 25 packs that turned out to be cocaine.

Tejada refused to speculate as to the possible origin of the illegal drugs. – With  Emmanuel Tupas, Evelyn Macairan, Cet Dematera, AFP

MV JIN MING
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