Police and anti-drug operatives seized 575 kilos of suspected shabu, stored in tea bags, worth around P4 billion and arrested a Chinese national in an operation in Baguio City on Wednesday.
Joint operatives of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said 51-year-old Ming Hui was arrested during the implementation of a search warrant in Purok 4, Irisan, along Naguilian Road in Baguio at about 8:55 a.m.
The haul was the biggest so far this year in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Police Cordillera Director Brig. Gen. David Perado said.
Baguio City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Rufus Malecdan Jr. issued the search warrant on Tuesday, NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Edgar Alan Okubo said.
The operation stemmed from the surveillance operations of the NCRPO, in coordination with PDEA, to locate the possible storage site of a big haul of illegal drugs until it was found to be in Baguio, Okubo said.
“Due to the unfavorable operating environment of these illegal drug syndicates in Metro Manila and rigorous anti-illegal drugs operation of NCRPO, these drug syndicates had no other choice but to hide these illegal drugs to Baguio City, which is known to have very low cases of drug affectation, thereby, becomes conducive for less likelihood of detection,” he said.
Okubo said an initial investigation showed the seized illegal drugs were to be distributed or sold in Luzon.
The Philippine National Police will take custody of the evidence gathered for safekeeping and further investigation while PDEA would undertake drug profiling to establish the DNA of the narcotics to aid the conduct of follow-up operations, he added.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. thanked all the participating units that had worked together to attain a nationwide approach in the fight against illegal drugs.
“The approach here is whole-of-nation, whole-of-government approach. Not only PDEA, not only the police, not only the NBI conducted the operation. They joined forces. What is good is that the Cordillera police was also involved. This is just the beginning. We are going to have a lot more of these things,” Abalos told reporters in Baguio.
He said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has ordered the PNP and other law enforcement agencies to run after high-level drug syndicates.
Meanwhile, PDEA Director Gen. Moro Virgilio Lazo said they would continue to comply with the President’s order to undertake supply reduction efforts and arrest top-level drug traffickers.
“This is one accomplishment towards the end. If you consider this bulk, we will save a lot for drug users because it was confiscated,” Lazo said.
According to the authorities, the seized drugs came from other countries and transported to the Philippines.
Major General Jonnel Estomo, PNP deputy chief for operations, said the seized illegal drug was initially monitored in the National Capital Region. It, however, was transported to another area.
Authorities took three weeks to locate the area where the illegal drugs were transferred.
PDEA director general Moro Lazo said the operation was a big part of the supply reduction efforts of the government.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong also lauded the successful operation.
Authorities are also examining the vehicle used to transport the seized illegal drugs.