Three suspected members of a notorious international drug syndicate have been arrested in Manila, proof that the group has resumed its activities in the country, a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) official said Wednesday.
NBI Reaction, Arrest and Interdiction Division head Ross Jonathan Galicia told the Inquirer that John Nana Brown of Ghana and Radity Chusnul Fariz and Fiti Wiji Utami, both of Indonesia, were taken into custody by the bureau after they were found in possession of 1.24 kilos of “shabu” or methamphetamine hydrochloride valued at P3.6 million.
The three were arrested inside a room at the Stonehouse Hotel on Mabini Street, Manila, at 11 p.m. on Tuesday.
Galicia said the three were believed to be members of the West African Drug Syndicate which was reportedly behind the recruitment of several Filipinos as “drug mules.”
Some of the Filipinos, however, were executed by authorities in China after they were caught smuggling drugs into that country, he added.
According to Galicia, this prompted the group to lie low in 2011. The group’s presence in the Philippines was first detected in 2002, he said.
The NBI official told the Inquirer that the drugs seized from the three men on Tuesday were found in 25 sachets that had been individually packed and concealed in 25 rolls of lace.
“You will not think that there were drugs hidden inside the rolls of lace because these are flat and thin. But if you slit open one side of the lace roll, the [package] inflates to show the shabu hidden inside,” he said.
The rolls of lace were in a suitcase found in the three men’s hotel room.
Galicia explained that the drug syndicate was known to be “very creative in [thinking of ways to conceal] the illegal drugs and hide it [in such a way] that an untrained person would never notice it.”
Meanwhile, the three foreigners denied in an interview that they were members of the international drug syndicate.
The NBI said the Indonesians arrived in the country on Feb. 23 while Brown had been in Manila for more than a month.
Brown, for his part, said that the suitcase was given to him by another Ghanaian who instructed him to bring it to the two Indonesians staying at the hotel.