MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Customs and anti-drug agents on Friday night, March 22, foiled an attempt to smuggle 276 kilos of methamphetamine (shabu) into the country through the Manila North Harbor.
With an estimated worth of P1.8 billion, the intercepted drugs were shipped from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, aboard the vessel Callao Bridge V145E, authorities said in a statement.
The drugs were hidden in a 40-foot container van that was declared to contain plastic resin. The shipment was addressed to Wealth Lotus Empire Corporation and brokered by Jane A. Castillo, with business address at Sta Lucia Street, Intramuros, Manila.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Friday provided intelligence information to the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service that there was contraband aboard the said vessel, which arrived at the Manila North Harbor last March 17.
Manila International Container Port (MICP) District Collector Erastus Sandino Austria said he immediately ordered the containers examined in the presence of PDEA and Philippine Coast Guard representatives.
Customs and PDEA agents 12 found sacks full of items wrapped in clear cellophane and sealed in foil packaging. Tests confirmed the items were shabu. After an inventory, the confiscated drugs will be turned over to PDEA.
“We have already revoked the customs accreditation of the involved consignee, Wealth Lotus Empire Corporation, and customs broker Castillo,” Austria said.
“Also, we will also file appropriate criminal and administrative charges against those involved in the importation of illegal-drugs,” he added.
According to PDEA General Director Aaron Aquino, the packaging of the shipment recovered in Manila was similar to that of drugs seized in a recent operation in Ho Chi Minh.
"Operation of PDEA and Customs started when Vietnam Police seized last March 20, 300 kilograms shabu in a buy-bust operation in Ho Chi Minh allegedly run by [a] Chinese national who uses [a] textile company as coverup," Aquino added.
In a press statement on Friday, the Bureau of Customs said the shipment came "from China" but did not say whether Ho Chi Minh was just a transshipment point for the illegal drugs. – Rappler.com