April 1, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 174 views

Alfred DalizonI’M posing this question after some law enforcement friends on Friday told me there is a possibility that the nearly 1.6 tons of high-grade shabu seized by the police in Sta. Cruz, Manila and in Baguio City appeared to have been smuggled by the same drug trafficking syndicate.

The real question is this: Did they come from the same huge drug shipment which got away? Indeed, based on their very similar Chinese tea packaging, there is really a very big possibility that the huge volume of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ were smuggled by the same group.

My friend’s curiosity were aroused by findings that the 575 kilograms of shabu worth nearly P4 billion seized by PNP authorities in Baguio City on Wednesday and the 990 kilos of the same prohibited substance recovered in an anti-narcotics operation in Sta. Cruz, Manila on October last year had the same common denominator: all of them had identical ‘Chinese green tea/aluminum foil/ packaging.

Last March 16, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chaired by my friend, Director General Moro Lazo destroyed thru a process called thermal decomposition P19.9 billion worth of shabu and other seized dangerous drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals, the biggest mass destruction of recovered illegal substances in the country’s history to prevent the possibility of pilfering and recycling.

The destroyed drugs comprise evidence seized from various anti-drug operations conducted by the PDEA, the PNP and other law enforcement agencies in the country. They also include the 990 kilograms of shabu worth P6.7 billion confiscated by agents of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group headed by Brigadier General Narciso Domingo in an anti-narcotics operation in Sta. Cruz, Manila on October 8, 2022.

The huge volume of shabu were destroyed after the required laboratory examination and technical inventory in accord with PDEA and DDB standard procedures. Two suspects including a policeman identified as Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo Jr. of the PNP-DEG were arrested during the operation.

PNP chief, General Jun Azurin said that ‘but more than the amount of drugs confiscated, the important thing is we have taken off the streets millions of dosage units of toxic chemicals in this shabu concoction that could have destroyed so many young and productive Filipino lives.” I fully agree with the top cop.

That operation eventually prompted DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. to recommend to President Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. the courtesy resignation of all 3rd-Level PNP officers, majority of them already screened by a 5-Man Committee led by Gen. Azurin.

Last Wednesday, my eagle-eyed friends spotted the 575 kilograms of shabu worth nearly P4 billion as they were shown on television. The drugs which were seized as a result of a PNP ‘intelligence-driven’ operation in Baguio City were in Chinese green tea packaging which looked almost exactly the same drugs destroyed by the PDEA two weeks ago.

Is it purely coincidental that the drugs recovered last December in Manila and the shabu seized in Baguio City last Wednesday had the same packaging? Was the same drug syndicate behind their shipment? How come that all appeared to have been wrapped and sealed in one place only based on their packaging? These questions may only be answered in a formal investigation.

Some highly-reliable sources have told me they are looking into information that a big-time Chinese drug trafficking syndicate smuggled more than a ton of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ into the country last year. In fact, they are eyeing the big possibility that the drugs recovered in Sta. Cruz and the one found in Baguio City belong to the same huge drug shipment.

During the early 90s, foreign drug syndicates are known for using ‘mother ships’ or big commercial vessels to smuggle drugs into the country using our vast unguarded sea lanes. In the absence of Coast Guard and maritime police patrols, well-financed drug syndicates are known for hiring commercial vessels to drop their drug contraband in the high seas where they are picked by much smaller boats and transported to the largely unguarded coastal areas in The Philippines.

Once brought to the beach, the drugs will be hidden in vehicles including ambulances to mislead authorities before they are transported to the syndicate’s storage facilities in Metro Manila and nearby areas. This was proven when a Quezon town mayor and his aide were arrested by agents of the now defunct PNP Narcotics Group in a sting in Real, Quezon.

Mayor Ronnie Mitra of Panukulan, Quezon and his driver Jaime Morilla in 2007 were sentenced to life imprisonment by a Quezon City regional trial court which found the two guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

When arrested in Barangay Kiloloran in Real municipality on October 31, 2001, Mitra was driving a van found containing six sacks of shabu while Morilla was driving a Panukulan ambulance loaded with 10 sacks of the same drugs.

Before I end, I would like to join Sec. Abalos in commending the officers and men behind the major drug haul in Baguio City. The DILG chief said that a ‘whole-of-government approach in fighting illegal drugs in the country was behind the seizure of 575 kilograms of shabu worth nearly P4 billion in the City of Pines.

The DILG chief thanked all the participating units—from the National Capital Region Police Office, the Cordillera Police Regional Office, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group—which worked together to find the huge shabu storage facility where 51-year old Chinese national Ming Hui alias ‘Tan’ was arrested.

The DILG chief was joined by Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong, PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Major General Jonnel Estomo, NCRPO director, Major Gen. Edgar Alan Okubo, PDEA chair Lazo, Cordillera Police Regional Office director, Brigadier Gen. David Peredo and Northern Police District director, Brig. Gen. Rogelio Peñones Jr. in supervising the raid at the shabu warehouse located at no. 035-A Purok Irisan, Baguio City.

It was so far the largest shabu haul to be made in the Cordillera region by the police force. I learned that the successful anti-drug raid stemmed from the relentless surveillance operations of the NCRPO formerly headed by Maj. Gen. Estomo and now Maj. Gen. Okubo to locate the possible storage site of a big drug shipment in the country.

In coordination with the PDEA, PNP agents managed to locate the drug storage facility. Maj. Gen. Estomo said that prior to the raid, their intelligence officers have uncovered a plot by a major Chinese drug trafficking syndicate to distribute the drugs in Luzon area and eventually discovered their operations in Baguo City.

Congratulations to the PNP and the PDEA for another job well done.