P3.6 billion shabu seized in Pampanga

Daphne Galvez - The Philippine Star
P3.6 billion shabu seized in Pampanga
Agents guard 530 kilos of shabu concealed in Chinese tea packs, which were seized in a raid on a warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga yesterday.
Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — About P3.6 billion worth of shabu was seized in a warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga late Wednesday, the biggest catch so far under the Marcos administration, according to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.

The shabu was intercepted by the Bureau of Customs-Port of Subic in collaboration with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The 530 kilos of methamphetamine placed in mixed red tea bags and golden tea bags were placed inside brown boxes that also contained either a bag of chicharon or a bag of dried fish “to conceal the illegal drugs, along with cases of soft drinks and sacks of feed with markings in Thai language.”

Remulla said the operation at the warehouse in Purok 5, barangay San Jose Malino was a result of a multi-agency operation led by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

“We expect to be carrying out more operations of this nature in ports because most of these drugs are brought here via the Customs, via containers or via shipments being brought into our ports,” he said in a press briefing. “We suspect that most of the drugs, maybe 85 percent, come in through the ports.”

The operation, initiated following a derogatory report from the BOC Intelligence Group, resulted in the seizure of 530 packs, each containing approximately one kilogram of methamphetamine. These illicit substances were concealed within a container originally declared to contain 881 bags of animal feed from Thailand.

District Collector Ciriaco DG Ugay promptly issued a warrant of seizure and detention on Sept. 23. The seized drugs were immediately handed over to the PDEA, followed by the execution of a controlled delivery operation by the NBI and PDEA.

“In this significant operation, law enforcement agencies successfully apprehended P3.6 billion worth of shabu, delivering a major blow to drug trafficking. The collaborative efforts of our dedicated teams, commencing with the BOC and CAIDTF, and notably the NBI and the PDEA, underscore our commitment to combatting the illegal drug trade and safeguarding our communities,” Ugay said.

Under the leadership of Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio, the agency remains resolute in adhering to President Marcos’ directives to bolster border protection capabilities and prevent the entry of illegal drugs and other dangerous substances into the country.

Investigators already have a list of persons involved in bringing in the drugs in the country, Remulla said, adding that foreigners are “definitely involved” as the shipment came from Thailand and the packaging has Thai language.

“It’s an international syndicate we are talking about. (It is) very sophisticated (and has become) a world menace,” he said.

While Remulla said it is “too soon to say” if government personnel are involved, he believes that “there is already an infiltration of a syndicate in the government.”

According to the NBI, the shipment arrived at Subic Port on Sept. 18 from Thailand on board the vessel Sitc Shekou.

The NBI is already coordinating with the DOJ’s National Prosecution Service in preparation of a case for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

It is also conducting a financial investigation, along with the Anti-Money Laundering Council, against corporations that are believed to be acting as conduits to traffic the seized drugs.

The bureau said it has, since 2020, been working with the PDEA, BOC and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency against a drug syndicate – a coordination that resulted in the seizure of the shabu.– Mark Ernest Villeza

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