DOJ starts preliminary probe into P6.4-B drug smuggling case
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday began its preliminary investigation into the P6.4-billion drug smuggling scandal.
Three of the nine respondents, including detained businessman Dong Yi Shen alias Kenneth Dong, Li Guang Feng alias Manny Li, and EMT Trading owner Eirene Mae Tatad appeared before the DOJ to receive copies of the complaint filed by the Customs Action Team Against Smugglers Group on September 15.
Customs fixer Mark Ruben Taguba and Customs broker Teejay Marcellana were represented by their legal counsels during the proceeding.
The rest of the accused, including Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies chairman Chen Ju Long alias Richard Tan or Richard Chen, warehouseman Fidel Anoche Dee, and Taiwanese nationals Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun did not attend the DOJ investigation.
They were all facing a complaint for violations of Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and Republic Act 9165 or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit set the next preliminary investigation on November 20 for the parties to respond to the complaint via filing of a counter-affidavit.
Bureau of Customs (BOC) alleged that the EMT Trading misdeclared the content of the shipment, which arrived in the Philippines on May 16. The trading declared that it contained 116 packages of cutting board, 500 packages of footwear, 138 packages of kitchenwares, and 23 packages of moulds, with an estimated value of $5,900 (approx. P303,000).
“The subject shipment was willfully, knowingly and unlawfully imported into the country through the use of false/falsified/spurious Inward Foreign Manifests and Bill of Lading by falsely making it appear that the subject shipment has the proper importation documents and clearances, for the purpose of intentionally concealing its actual contents, but the truth was the shipment is composed of prohibited articles whose importation is expressly prohibited by pertinent laws,” the complaint stated.
The shipment was reportedly approved by Marcellana. It was allowed to go through the BOC’s green lane and did not undergo the usual physical and documentary examinations.
On May 24, Taguba’s Golden Strike Logistic, Inc. then transported the shipment to Hongfei’s warehouse in Valenzuela City, except for the five wooden crates, which were delivered to Fidel Anoche Dee.
Through a tip from its Chinese counterpart, the BOC, with the help of the National Bureau of Investigation, raided Hongfei and discovered the 605-kilo methamphetamine hydrochloride (also known as shabu).
The high-profile raid prompted the Senate and the House of Representatives to conduct parallel investigations and this also resulted in the resignation of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and other top BOC officials. /jpv
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