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Pakistan, Afghanistan eyed as source of seized P13.3-B shabu

April 17, 2024 Alfred P. Dalizon 116 views

AUTHORITIES are eyeing the possibility that the estimated P13.3 billion worth of shabu seized by the police in Alitagtag, Batangas on Monday “without firing a single shot” could have been smuggled by a foreign drug syndicate into the country either from Pakistan or Afghanistan, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

Officers are also tracking down the occupants of at least four motor vehicles who were last seen leaving a yacht club in Batangas prior to the interception of the nearly two tons of shabu by policemen manning a checkpoint in Alitagtag municipality, sources said.

“There is still no clear indication if a yacht was used to smuggle the huge volume of drugs. But what is clear is that the suspects are probably set to transport them to Metro Manila from Batangas province,” said one of the sources who spoke to the Journal Group on condition of anonymity.

The PNP has also sought the help of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and their foreign counterparts in identifying the origin of the recovered drugs.

Prior to that, drug production in Pakistan is believed to be largely confined to opium or poppy cultivation and its processing into hashish.

The country has never been a significant opium producer however although there were suspicions that some foreign syndicates may have set methamphetamine production site in the area which is geographically located next to Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of illicit opium and major supplier of meth in its neighboring countries.

However in 2023, there were reports about soaring addiction to crystal meth or ‘ice’ use in Pakistan, the spike most visible in its provinces located at the border of Afghanistan.

Shabu, a highly addictive stimulant can be injected, snorted, smoked or ingested orally in other countries.

However, they are known for being ‘smoked’ by addicts who get a ‘euphoric high’ that last for hours.

On Tuesday, PNP spokesperson Colonel Jean S. Fajardo said the drugs seized in Alitagtag came from a different source compared to huge volume of shabu previously recovered by the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The shabu seized in Alitagtag had different packaging and ‘Arabic’ markings unlike large seizures before which were mostly wrapped in green aluminum tin foils with Chinese Tea markings.

“Ang initial assessment po natin ay iba po ang origin nitong drugs na ito compared doon sa mga previous na nakumpiska natin. Malaki po yung pagkakaiba po sa mga previous na nakikita natin na naka-contain sa mga foreign-looking na mga teabags po. Ito po ay nakalagay sa plastic container. Malayo po yung markings niya doon sa normally na nakikita natin sa previous drug hauls po,” Col. Fajardo said

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday inspected the recovered drugs and warned members of drug syndicates that his administration would prosecute them with the full force of the law.

“Bahala kayo sa ginagawa ninyo basta’t tuluy-tuloy lang kami. Aabutan din namin kayo. Maliit lang ang Pilipinas,” the Commander-in-Chief said.

President Marcos Jr. also highlighted that the latest haul was the “biggest” under his administration, but no one was killed in the operations.

“I would like also to point out, that this is the biggest shipment of shabu na nahuli natin, but not one person died. Walang namatay. Walang nagputukan, walang nasaktan,” he said.

PNP chief General Rommel Francisco Marbil and Police Regional Office 4-A director Brigadier Gen. Paul Kenneth Lucas have ordered the Batangas Police Provincial Office to continue a thorough investigation into the case and go after all suspects who are behind the major drug smuggling case.

The interception of nearly two tons of shabu in Alitagtag, has been hailed as a “historic milestone” in Philippine law enforcement that Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos Jr. has recommended the on-the-spot meritorious promotion of policemen who intercepted the drugs.

According to the police, the driver of the Foton van identified as Michael Zarate, a 47-year old resident of Project 4, Quezon City, was stopped by members of the Alitagtag Municipal Police Station led by Captain Luis De Luna Jr. around 8 a.m. Monday.

The intelligence-driven checkpoint operation led in the arrest of the suspect and the recovery of the nearly 2,000 kilograms of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ which tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride during an initial screening by the PDEA.

The accused will be facing non-bailable charges for illegal possession and transport of prohibited drugs under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Gen. Marbil reaffirmed the PNP’s commitment to achieve a 100 percent drug-free communities in the country following the major drug haul.

“Our achievements against illegal drug activities are a testament to the effectiveness of our anti-illegal drugs operations. We remain resolute in our determination to rid our community of the scourge of illegal drugs, and we urge the public to remain vigilant and cooperative in this fight,” the 30th PNP chief said.

Reports said that the suspect aroused police suspicion when he became uneasy when an officer asked him to produce his driver’s license.

Officers who observed that the back of the vehicle was covered with a blue woven sack began inspecting the van’s content and asked Zarate to remove the cover. When removed, the woven sack was found to be being used to cover the contraband.