Philippines: Police Seize Methamphetamine Valued at $19.1 Million

Luis Liwanag
190524-PH-drugs-620.JPG A Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agent inspects an aluminum pallet used to hide a shipment of methamphetamine, May 24, 2019.
Courtesy of PDEA

Agents seized 146 kg (321 pounds) of methamphetamine from Cambodia that has a street value of 1 billion pesos (U.S. $19.1 million) following a three-month sting operation, the nation’s top anti-narcotics officer announced Friday.

The seizure Thursday was a direct result of a series of PDEA raids in February raids that resulted in the seizure of more than 300 kg (661 pounds) of shabu valued at 2.14 billion pesos ($41 million), said Aaron Aquino, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general

A cellular phone seized from three Chinese suspects yielded valuable information that led to the recent seizure of the drug, known locally as shabu, according to Aquino

“During the forensic investigations, we learned their group is expecting a shipment of illegal drugs concealed in tapioca starch consigned to Goroyam Trading,” Aquino said, adding that customs agents were then tipped about the shipment and the company was cleared of wrongdoing.

The customs bureau located the shipment in March and found the shabu concealed in aluminum pallets. The drug enforcement agency, the customs bureau, police and the military agreed to conduct a follow-up sting operation, he said.

“It was very unusual to see pallets made of aluminum that’s why we tried to bore holes and we saw the drugs there,” Aquino said.

The shipment was put up for bidding in in late April and a called Goldwyn Commercial Warehouse submitted the winning offer. Authorities then raided the company’s warehouse and seized the drugs, according to officials.

Aquino said Goldwyn has been cleared of any charges because company officials apparently did not know of the drugs hidden inside the shipment.

“This shipment of illegal drugs is from Cambodia and is part of the golden triangle drug syndicate,” Aquino said. “We were expecting that during the auction the one who imported the shipment would join. We are now focusing on the consignee of this shipment, but it’s a very long process.”

Duterte’s drug war

The drug haul came amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs that has left some 5,300 suspected addicts and dealers dead, based on official police statistics. But rights groups said the figure could actually be anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 that were blamed on pro-government vigilantes.

Duterte has said that he plans to continue the drug war, which began shortly after he took office in 2016, until his term ends in 2022. Candidates he backed early this month won the 12 vacant seats in the Senate, giving his allies majority control of the upper chamber of congress that had in the past considered the last bastion of political opposition.

In March, Duterte lashed out at critics saying he was prepared to accept the consequences of his actions.

“I’m putting everybody on notice, I will not allow my country to be destroyed by drugs. I don’t want my country to end up as a failed state,” Duterte said at the time.


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