P2.19 billion shabu concealed in beef jerky from Mexico intercepted

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
P2.19 billion shabu concealed in beef jerky from Mexico intercepted
Authorities make an inventory of a shipment containing over 300 kilos of shabu at the Manila International Container Port yesterday.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — At least 323.18 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu worth P2.19 billion were discovered on Oct. 4 at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported yesterday.

The PNP Drug Enforcement Group received information about the presence of a large shipment of shabu at the MICP, PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said at a press briefing.

Acting on the tip, the PNP conducted a joint interdiction operation at the MICP in Isla Puting Bato in Barangay 20, Tondo at around 11 a.m.

“We identified a container van allegedly containing the dangerous drugs, particularly shabu, which was imported into the country,” Acorda said.

The illegal drugs were stuffed in more than a thousand packs of beef jerky and were wrapped in carbon paper to avoid detection.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) reported that the shabu shipment came from Mexico.

“The shipment containing the said contraband came from Logistica Integral Aduanal Meyma and Aime Express Logistics SA DE CV, Mexico and consigned to a certain Salesbeat Within OPC,” the agency said in its statement.

It arrived on Feb. 24 this year, it added.

Authorities have sealed the container where the huge haul of shabu was stored, the BOC noted.

The seizure of the illegal substances was a result of joint collaboration with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Coast Guard and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, Acorda said.

‘Anything can come in’

House ways and means chair Rep. Joey Salceda praised Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio for the successful efforts of the bureau to apprehend some P35.4 billion in shabu shipments in the major ports of Subic and MICP.

Salceda said the two separate interdiction efforts were “the largest ever catch by any Customs commissioner.”

“In Subic, they caught some 560 kilos, or a combined worth of around P3.9 billion based on the per-kilo estimates of the Dangerous Drugs Board. In MICP, they caught around 4.45 tons, which is close to P31.5 billion in value. So, you’re looking at a combined value of around P35.4 billion.”

“The lethal dose of meth is around 200 mg. So, what was caught is enough to kill 25 million Filipinos all at once. This is a serious accomplishment on the part of the BOC, but it also signifies that there is a serious systemic problem,” he said.

“The shipment in Subic was caught hidden in tea bags, while the one in MICP was hidden in a shipment of beef jerky.”

Salceda, whose committee oversees the BOC, said “we must be relentless in the fight against the use of our ports for criminal activities.”

“If criminal syndicates think that they can use our ports to ship shabu into the country, then they probably believe that anything can pass through our ports.

“So, we have to be stricter and more vigilant against smuggling, because if drugs can come in, pretty much anything can come in,” he said.

Intel gathering

Salceda said “the committee on ways and means is working with the BOC to fight smuggling in goods such as tobacco, agricultural products and petroleum.”

“Cheap smuggled excisable products will kill important industries such as refining, and will also harm collections of taxes in licit tobacco and alcohol. It will also snuff the life out of the domestic agriculture sector before our farmers have the chance to prepare to compete in the world market,” he said.

Salceda said the best investment that Customs can make “is in intelligence gathering, since that is how you catch them. By tapping into their networks.”

“You only know what to catch if you know what’s coming. So, intel gathering is everything in Customs enforcement,” he said.

Salceda said he supports additional funding for intelligence gathering efforts of the BOC “as it clearly leads to capture,” adding that he also supports expanding the capacity of the BOC to monitor private ports, especially for petroleum.

“Smuggling and drug trafficking of this scale can only come from a sense that the system cannot catch them. So, we need to strengthen the system. Catching individual smugglers won’t be enough,” he said. — Ghio Ong

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