Quezon fishers recover P200-M worth of cocaine off Bicol waters
Published: 9:59 a.m., April 17, 2018 | Updated: 11:03 p.m., April 17, 2018
LUCENA CITY — A group of fishermen from Quezon province found a plastic container filled with 28 kilograms of cocaine in the waters off Bicol region on Sunday night, a local official told the Inquirer on Tuesday.
Councilor Leonardo Reyes, president of the association of village chiefs in Perez town, Quezon, said four fishermen discovered 28 sealed packs, weighing a kilogram each, when they opened the container they retrieved while fishing in the Pacific Ocean facing mainland Bicol.
Police estimated that the packs of cocaine were worth at least P162 million.
“When I was informed by the boat owner [about the fishermen’s discovery], I [instructed him] that the recovered items should be immediately surrendered to the police,” Reyes said in a telephone interview.
He said laboratory tests done by the police confirmed that the substance was “high-grade” cocaine.
Boat captain Edgar Rey said he and his companions initially thought that they found a container of gasoline as their boat passed through the territorial waters of Camarines Norte province.
“While we knew that what we found was equivalent to a huge sum of money, our immediate consensus and decision was to surrender it to the police because it was the right thing to do,” Rey said.
Senior Supt. Rhoderick Armamento, Quezon police director, thanked the fishermen for turning over the cocaine.
“Thousands of lives will be wasted if that bulk falls into the hands of unscrupulous persons,” Armamento said.
Chief Insp. Marcelito Platino, Quezon police public information officer, said the police were validating information that other fishermen from Alabat Island, where the towns of Perez, Alabat and Quezon were located, also recovered similar packs of cocaine.
He asked fishermen still keeping the cocaine to turn over the contraband to the police.
“It would not be easy for them to find buyers. We would confiscate them before they could turn them into cash,” he added.
Reyes said the plastic container had 30 sealed packs but the fishermen opened three, suspecting that it contained money.
“But they said they threw the packs into the water due to their foul smell,” Reyes said.
Authorities here believed that the illegal drugs were part of similar containers of cocaine found in Sorsogon and Isabela provinces early this year.
On Jan. 3, a plastic container filled with 24 kg of cocaine was washed ashore at Matnog town in Sorsogon.
Police and antinarcotics officials launched an investigation that looked into a foreign cargo vessel, which sank off Northern Samar province on Jan. 2, as a possible source of the illegal drugs.
On Feb. 6, cocaine sealed in a blue plastic container was found floating in waters off Divilacan in Isabela. The cocaine, in eight packs, weighed about 19 kg and was worth P80 million.
On Feb. 3, a fisherman in Guiuan town, Eastern Samar province, found 25 packs containing substance initially suspected to be cocaine. But tests showed that these contained chloride.
Platino said police tasked officials of coastal villages to monitor their waters to prevent smuggling of illegal drugs.
Thirty-four of Quezon’s 42 towns are coastal communities—17 along Lamon Bay in the Pacific Ocean, 12 off Tayabas Bay and five along Ragay Gulf. /cbb /pdi
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