P13-B ‘shabu’ seized by cops in Batangas checkpoint

P13-B ‘shabu’ seized by cops in Batangas checkpoint

P13-B ‘shabu’ seized by cops in Batangas checkpoint

EVIDENCE SECURED A police cordon secures a van and its cargo of “shabu” (crystal meth), worth at least P13 billion, after the vehicle was flagged down at a checkpoint in Alitagtag, Batangas, on Monday. The value of this latest drug haul surpassed the P11 billion worth of shabu seized in Infanta, Quezon, in March 2022. PHOTO FROM BATANGAS PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE FACEBOOK PAGE

MANILA, Philippines — More than 2 tons of “shabu” (crystal meth) loaded into a passenger van were seized in Alitagtag town in Batangas province on Monday in what authorities described as the “largest drug bust in the history of the country.”

The Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) regional police, citing a spot report from the Alitagtag police station, said a team led by the town’s police chief, Capt. Luis de Luna Jr., flagged down a Foton van at a checkpoint along the highway in Barangay Pinagkurusan around 9 a.m.


READ: ‘Biggest drug haul’ in PH history: P11B in shabu seized in Quezon


READ: Gov’t destroys P11-B shabu from Quezon bust

Investigators said the Parañaque City-bound vehicle came from Sta. Teresita town and was heading to Lipa City when its driver, Alajon Michael Zarate, was directed to pull over.

Zarate, 47, a resident of Quezon City, failed to present his driver’s license and appeared “uneasy and uncomfortable,” according to the spot report.

Policemen then noticed the cargo at the back of the Foton van covered with a “tolda” (canvas), which turned out to be several sacks and plastic containers, each containing plastic bags filled with shabu.

Citing reports from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Lt. Col. Chitadel Gaoiran, Calabarzon police public information officer, said the seized shabu weighed some 2 tons and were valued at P13.3 billion.


“It is only an estimate. The inventory is still ongoing,” Gaoiran said in a chat message.

The load capacity of a Foton van could vary depending on the model and configuration. Generally, these vehicles have load capacities ranging from 1,000 kilograms (a ton) to 1,500 kilos.


At a press conference streamed live on social media, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos described the drugs as the largest haul yet by authorities.

He was joined in the press conference by Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas and Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rommel Marbil, together with other police officials.

“This record-setting P13.3-billion drug haul [is] concrete proof that the government’s policy of bloodless and preventive-centered campaign against illegal drugs is on the right track,” Abalos said.

He was apparently referring to the new thrust of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration to veer away from the killings that marred the drug war of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.

Abalos also commended De Luna for the “intelligence-driven” operation of his team.

“P13.3 billion is a large amount of money, but De Luna and his companions were not blinded by money. They are the best examples of PNP leadership. On this day, you are promoted, because of your excellence, courage to do your job. You chose not to keep it, you did not take away anything,” said Abalos, who gave De Luna a spot promotion.

Mandanas warned illegal drug traffickers “not to pass through Batangas province because, for sure, you will be caught.”

Abalos and the other officials inspected the seized drugs and noticed that the packs containing these had Arabic instead of the usual Chinese inscriptions.

Several car plates were also found with the drugs.

Previous operations

Other details provided by officials about the drug haul were limited, as follow-up operations were still ongoing.

The biggest drug haul before Monday’s operation was the P11 billion worth of shabu found in 1,589 tea bags seized in Infanta, Quezon province, in March 2022.

The drugs were found in three vans passing a checkpoint in that town. Police arrested 10 suspects on the spot.

Eric Distor, then officer in charge of the National Bureau of Investigation, said the drugs were destroyed three months later at a facility in Trece Martires City, Cavite province, upon the order of a court.

According to PNP Drug Enforcement Group Director Narciso Domingo, authorities also seized 990 kilos of shabu worth P6.7 billion during a buy-bust operation in October 2022 at a wellness clinic in Tondo, Manila.

In a year-end update on January this year regarding the government’s antidrug campaign, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said about P10.41 billion worth of drugs had been confiscated, while 56,495 suspects were arrested during the conduct of 44,000 antidrug operations in 2023.

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The PCO also said a total of 23 provinces, 447 municipalities and 43 cities had established community-based drug rehabilitation programs as of Dec. 27 that year.

More than 27,000 barangays were cleared of narcotics that year, the PCO said further, citing PNP data. WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH

TAGS: Batangas, DILG, PNP‎, Shabu bust

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