1-ton ‘shabu’ slips thru PH ports–PDEA
About 1 ton of “shabu” (crystal meth) from Taiwan worth about P7 billion slipped through local ports and law enforcement authorities, and could now be circulating around the country, the chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said on Friday.
After a shipping container loaded with two large magnetic lifters that held about 500 kilograms of shabu worth P4.3 billion was seized on Tuesday at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino told reporters that he had a “gut feeling” that there were more of the same.
Pursuing his hunch, Aquino on Friday led PDEA and customs agents and the police to a warehouse at General Mariano Alvarez in Cavite province, where they found four identical magnetic lifters.
Drug-sniffing dogs detected traces of shabu in the empty hollow parts of the massive steel devices, which Aquino estimated had contained about 1 ton, or 1,000 kilograms, of shabu with a street value of P6.8 billion.
“Initial information reveals that these illegal drugs came from Taiwan, Republic of China, and the syndicates only used Malaysia as a transshipping point,” Aquino said.
Aside from the magnetic lifters, certain documents, including business and shipment records, bank papers and closed-circuit television footage were also recovered in the raid on the warehouse at Unit 4, Lot 1-18, CRS Subdivision, Barangay F. Reyes, General Mariano Alvarez.
“This only proves that these magnetic lifters were used to bring in illegal drugs inside our country. The PDEA and the [Philippine National Police] believe that this is part of the shipment intercepted last Aug. 7 at the [MICT],” Aquino said in a statement.
“This is very saddening. P6.8 billion worth of illegal drugs are now circulating anew in our streets,” he said.
Despite President Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs that has killed thousands of alleged offenders, drug traders are still smuggling in large amounts of shabu.
604 kg last year
Last year, authorities seized 604 kg of shabu worth P6.4 billion, the largest single shipment of the illegal drug intercepted by authorities since Mr. Duterte took office in 2016.
The President’s son, Paolo, and son-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio, were implicated in the smuggling but both strongly denied any involvement and were cleared by a Senate investigation.
During his press briefing at the MICT on Tuesday night, Aquino said the 500-kg shabu shipment, which was brought in by the ship AS Cecilia from Malaysia, was intercepted following a tip as early as July that illegal drugs would be smuggled from that country.
On Friday, Aquino said the shabu intercepted earlier this week had been traced also to Taiwan and to the Golden Triangle drug syndicate. Malaysia apparently was just for transshipment, he said.
An initial investigation showed that Tuesday’s shipment was consigned to Vecaba Trading under a certain Vedasto Cabral Baraquel of Barangay Lalud in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.
19 persons of interest
“Initially, we have at least 19 persons of interest, including 11 Chinese nationals. We cannot reveal their names yet because of continuous operations,” Aquino said.
The PDEA, however, disclosed at least one name—Chao Yue Wah alias “KC Chan,” “Albert Chan” or “Tony Chan”—who allegedly acted as the middle man for the shipment.
The owner of the warehouse in Cavite had cooperated with the police. Baraquel’s wife had also expressed willingness to cooperate with the investigation.
The PDEA is coordinating with its counterparts from China, Malaysia and the United States to help in the ongoing probe.
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