MANILA, Philippines?The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a cache of firearms and ammunition worth P4 million secreted in a container van marked ?household goods,? Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez said Thursday.
Along with other BOC officials, Alvarez went to the Department of Justice to file cases of violation of the Tariff and Customs Code against Lucia Chicco, the registered importer of the contraband.
?This is a stern warning to all smugglers and their cohorts. My personal goal is to make smuggling unprofitable,? Alvarez said in a press briefing.
?I?m also warning customs officers who still protect and coddle smugglers despite repeated reminders,? he added.
Chief Supt. Jose Yuchongco, BOC police director, said 24 firearms, among them a 50-cal. machine gun, were found in boxes inside a 40-foot container van that arrived at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) from the United States on Monday.
According to Yuchongco, there was no indication the shipment of high-powered firearms and ammunition was connected to any plots against the Aquino administration.
?I think guns of these type would be sold for personal use and to gun collectors,? Yuchongco told the Inquirer.
He said his office had sent a letter to the US government asking for assistance in locating the shipper of the guns.
Alvarez said that among the firearms were 16 assault rifles, two revolvers, six pistols and two metal boxes filled with close to 3,000 bullets.
He said the illegal shipment included a 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle, a 1983 Kawasaki motorcycle and a 1999 Plymouth sedan which were not covered by import permits.
As part of the bureau?s Run After The Smugglers program, Alvarez also announced the filing of smuggling charges against Kintetsu World Express broker Kristofferson Manalo.
Manalo allegedly facilitated the illegal importation of four expensive replicating machines used to manufacture compact audio and video discs.
The BOC also filed charges against two bogus companies believed used by syndicates to smuggle goods into the country.
Alvarez said Goldrich International Exchange declared a fictitious address at Suite 2000, Remar Building, 49 Doña Soledad Avenue, Better Living Subdivision, Parañaque City.
Also charged was Kornets International Company Ltd., which listed its office as an abandoned building in Novaliches, Quezon City.