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PNP says cocaine haul now P871M

INVENTORY Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency record the packages of cocaine recovered in a coastal village in Caraga, Davao Oriental, on Sunday. —NATHANIEL QUINONES/CONTRIBUTOR

The blocks of cocaine found at sea or along coastlines in the country’s eastern seaboard in Luzon and Mindanao this month had reached a total volume of 165 kilograms, worth P871.674 million, a Philippine National Police official said on Monday.

Senior Supt. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, said packs of illegal drugs were recovered at Tandag City in Surigao del Sur province, Dingalan town in Aurora province, Caraga town in Davao Oriental province and Dinagat Islands.

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“We continue to appeal to you to remain vigilant and report to the police any suspicious packages washed ashore or anyone who may show up offering an amount in exchange of said items,” Banac said in a statement.

‘Intended targets’

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In Davao City, Chief Supt. Marcelo Morales, Southern Mindanao police director, said international drug syndicates could be trying to establish a market in the Philippines after the recovery on Sunday of at least P200 million worth of cocaine in Davao Oriental.

Morales said the discovery of 39 bricks of cocaine at Barangay Santiago in Caraga town could also mean “there were intended targets” for illegal drugs in the country, owing to its volume.

“We cannot discount the possibility that these drugs could be from … countries like Mexico and Colombia,” Morales said during a press briefing on Monday.

He said while most drug users in the Philippines were into “shabu” (crystal meth), “this kind of volume of recovered cocaine could be an indicator” that international drug groups could be trying to gain a foothold in the country.

Antonio Rivera, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director for Southern Mindanao, said a fisherman found three boxes and six bricks of what turned out be cocaine tangled in a fishing net off Sitio Macopa at Barangay Santiago.

Each box contained 10 bricks.

“After … testing by chemists from PDEA, it was found out that these bricks were authentic cocaine and that the packaging were very similar to the bricks of cocaine found in Dinagat Islands’ waters,” Morales said.

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Foreign syndicates

On Feb. 12, a fisherman recovered 48 cocaine blocks on the shores of Dinagat Islands while two villagers also reported the discovery of 34 cocaine blocks in a seaside community in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, over the weekend.

While the PNP and the PDEA agree that the narcotics were likely from international syndicates using the Philippines as a transshipment point, they differ on the certainty of whether the blocks of cocaine are just decoys to divert their attention while larger hauls, likely the more popular shabu, are brought into the country.

Earlier, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said the amount of recovered cocaine was too large to be just a diversionary tactic.

But PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino, in a statement last week, said syndicates, as shown by past cases, had been willing to lose P125 million worth of cocaine so they could smuggle P11.15 billion worth of shabu, the top narcotic in the Philippines.

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TAGS: cocaine blocks, Colombian drug groups, drug smuggling, international drug syndicates, Mexican drug groups, PDEA, PNP‎, war on drugs
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