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Monday, March 4, 2024

P1.3b worth of shabu, P18m in cocaine seized by authorities

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Authorities on Friday seized P1.3 billion pesos worth of methamphetamine or shabu from a car abandoned for six days at a parking lot of a supermarket in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Meanwhile, government agents assigned to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport arrested a passenger caught carrying more than P18 million worth of cocaine from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation-Task Force Against Illegal Drugs and Mabalacat police opened the suspect vehicle at 1:58 a.m. Friday and discovered the meth shipment, which was stored in over 200 tea bags in several sacks.

In a TV interview, NBI-TFID chief Jonathan Ross Galicia said this was a common modus of drug dealers, leaving a vehicle full of goods even on roadsides for others to pick up. But the driver of the van in Pampanga felt he was being tailed, and so just left the car, he added.

Meanwhile, personnel from the Customs X-ray Inspection Project (XIP) detected the prohibited substance inside the baggage of a female traveler upon her arrival at NAIA Terminal 3 around 6 p.m. Thursday.

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The investigation showed that the woman arrived from Hong Kong on board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET644 and was originally from Addis Ababa as her port of origin.

“The baggage of passengers was subjected to scanning as part of the regular X-ray operations. In the process, one checked-in bag belonging to Zenaida E. Losloso, a Filipino citizen with Passport No. P8218100A, was marked “X” due to suspicious images,” said XIP chief Carmelita Talusan.

Talusan said the baggage was subsequently recommended for 100% physical examination by the customs examiner, resulting in the discovery of 3.4 kilos of cocaine.

The suspect is now in the custody of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and will be charged with violation of Republic Act 9165 (the Dangerous Drugs Act) and RA 10863, also known as the Customs Modernization Act (CMTA).

Customs Commissioner Bien Rubio commended the XIP team and the Port of NAIA under the supervision of Collector Yasmin Mapa for the latest accomplishment, saying this would not be the end of the line for those attempting to bring in illegal drugs and other contraband items into the country.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to protect the country against any and all forms of smuggling. This goal is in line with the directives of President Bongbong Marcos, so the public can be rest assured that we are heightening our vigilance against smuggling operations in a concerted effort to meet our revenue targets and ensure fair and secure trade,” said Rubio.

Airport authorities have heightened vigilance in the campaign against illegal drug trafficking in a bid to discourage international drug syndicates from using the Philippines as a transshipment point for illegal substances.

Just recently, Customs operatives also intercepted a Canadian drug mule who was caught with baggage containing shabu worth more than P48 million at the airport.

A 20-year-old man was also arrested by the bureau after he claimed a package of smuggled cannabis oil worth P3.9 million at the Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay City.

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