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Colombian drug cartel active in PH, PDEA says

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency on Tuesday confirmed that the Colombian drug cartel is operating in the country.

“The President is right in saying the Colombian drug cartel has already penetrated the Philippines based on the representative samples we got in Matnog, Sorsogon in 2018,” said PDEA chief Aaron Aquino, in a TV interview with GMA-7. “It showed the drugs came from Colombia.”

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the cocaine bricks worth millions of pesos recovered in Philippine waters in Surigao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Aurora could have come from the Medellin group of Colombia.

The Duterte administration is now coordinating with Colombia, he said, adding that the international syndicates were using the Philippines as a transshipment point for cocaine because the country’s coastal defenses were weak.

“The only way to bring in the drugs is through our shorelines. Our islands are unguarded, and that’s the reason why the Philippines is becoming a drug hub,” he said.

“This is because we have a weak monitoring and surveillance of our coastlines. The Philippine Navy and the [Philippine] Coast Guards have only small floating assets, and that makes our coastlines vulnerable,” he added.

The President has said his last three years in office will be “the most dangerous” for people involved with illegal drugs—a vow that some senators said should be made with caution.

“We should...brace ourselves for a repeat of the first one-and-a-half years of his presidency when Filipinos witnessed the bloodiest campaign against illegal drugs ever experienced in this part of the world,” said Senator Panfilo Lacson, adding that this might become uncontrollable, as it has in the past.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said despite the heavy hand against illegal drugs, huge quantities of cocain were found in Philippine waters.

“We cannot fault the President when he says his anti-drug campaign would be harsher in the coming days,” said Gatchalian.

However, he said this harsher campaign should be focused on the drug lords instead of small-time pushers and addicts.

Interpol, meanwhile, warned its member nations against various methods used by drug traffickers in transporting their contraband.

The organization said these include aerial drones, merchant vessels, women’s lingerie and mail order services.

“The Interpol Innovation Center has identified Unmanned Aerial Systems [UAS] commonly referred to as drones, being used with increasing frequency to illegally transport contraband goods into prisons in Interpol member countries,” the organization said in a notice to its member countries.

The organization said the use of drones to deliver contraband into a prison requires little knowledge or training with drone equipment, which is readily available in stores or online.

The Interpol notice said the drones are used by individuals or organized groups colluding with individuals inside the system, to deliver contraband usually by attaching a payload to the device either (by) a tether or an affixed remote release system.

“These are engineered to deliver the payload at a previously agreed upon location to be collected by a recipient inside the prison system,” the Interpol notice said.

“In some cases, the payloads carried by UAS devices into the prison system have been crafted to resemble other objects such as tennis balls, juice cartons, and dead birds in an attempt to disguise the contents,” it said.

In a “purple notice”on criminal modus operandi dated Jan. 16, Interpol also reported a drug smuggling incident in Cape Verde involving 66 condoms filled with liquid cocaine hidden in women’s brassieres.

READ: ‘International syndicates behind cocaine blocks found in PH’

The incident, which occurred in November, involved four women, three Brazilian and one Venezuelan, who were caught by the Cape Verdean authorities at the Amilcar Cabral International Airport for carrying drugs in their bras.

In another purple notice, Interpol said unidentified drug suppliers were exploiting “resender” parcel services ito send opium poppy heads.

The organization said that between Sept. 26 and Nov. 5, 2018, Australia Border Force (ABF) officers identified 11 consignments with description variations of “craft materials,” “decorative bulbs,” and dried decorative heads originating from the UK, bound for addresses in Perth, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

Inspection by ABF revealed the dried bulbs contained opium poppy seeds, a prohibited item. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and PNA

READ: ‘Dangerous years ahead in drug war’​

Topics: Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency , Colombian drug cartel , Aaron Aquino , Medellin , Colombia , Rodrigo Duterte , Philippine Navy
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