Scheme of drug smugglers linked to international drug cartel uncovered

Published June 9, 2018, 1:45 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Betheena Kae Unite

Fake names of Filipinos are now being used by drug smugglers as recipients of their drug shipments into the country in order not to be traced, the Bureau of Customs bared on Saturday.

Atty.  Gil Pabilona,Regional Director pdea-region 3, BOC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña(r),  during the turnover of 17.7 kilos of shabu seized at the port of clark  at BOC main office in Manila,  Friday. (CAMILLE ANTE/ MANILA BULLETIN)
Atty. Gil Pabilona,Regional Director pdea-region 3, BOC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña(r), during the turnover of 17.7 kilos of shabu seized at the port of clark at BOC main office in Manila, Friday. (CAMILLE ANTE/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The scheme of a drug syndicate operating in the country, which has direct connection with a drug cartel in the United States, has been uncovered after a series of operations jointly carried out by the Customs bureau and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

On Friday, a total of 17.7 kilos of shabu with a street value of P120 million were discovered from four parcels declared as chairs and bar stools at the Port of Clark.

This has been the second discovery of multimillion-peso shabu shipment in Clark this week from United States.

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said four controlled deliveries were conducted, however, only one was successful.

One individual identified as Evelyn Lunzaga was arrested in a controlled delivery in Laloma, Quezon City Friday. Lunzaga received the parcel sent by Maria Nazareno.

Other consignees were identified as Christian Frias, Robert Nazareno, and Dominic Gallardo, all of Quezon City, and Gina Santiago of Taguig.

The senders, on the other hand, were identified as Rania Frias, Vanessa Gallardo, and Rania Fernandez.

Fake names, delivery scheme

“There were four parcels. Isa lang ang naging successful, ‘yung iba walang nag-appear na magre-receive (Only one was successful, no one appeared to receive the other three deliveries),” Lapeña said.

The case of Lunzaga, according to PDEA regional director Gil Pabilona, revealed the scheme of drug smugglers wherein they used fake names of consignees and senders of the shabu parcels.

The syndicate operating in the Philippines, Pabilona added, supplies the Americans some Filipino names to be used as consignees.

The packages containing shabu will later be delivered to the consignee’s address where a person will be asked by the syndicate to receive the parcel.

In this case, Lunzaga was the one asked to receive the parcel. “She is part of the cycle of the syndicate as a place where the shipment can be forwarded and given to the syndicate. That is the picture of her involvement,” Pabilona explained.

From there, the shabu shipment will be moved to another location.

“Most likely, the syndicate is using different persons but only one is orchestrating the movements of these shipments as well as those who will be receiving the packages,” Pabilona said

“Probably, there is a syndicate here in the Philippines operating and the United States used as transshipment in order to carry the drugs into the country. It is our analysis that somebody here in the Philippines is also connected with a syndicate abroad,” the regional director added.

Diverted to other airports

Drug smugglers, according to Lapeña, have diverted their shipments to other ports and airports due to stricter security at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“We are suspecting that the sender of these packages are international drug syndicates and because of the stricter border protection in NAIA, the drug smugglers are now diverting their smuggled and contraband goods in other airports such as the Port of Clark,” Lapeña said.

According to Lapeña, the shipments arrived at the Port of Clark on June 5 from Los Angeles, California.

The next day, the shipments showed suspicious images during x-ray inspection. To further validate the images captured during the x-ray examination, Customs examiners sought the assistance of the K9 unit of the PDEA. It was then confirmed that the shipments were positive for illegal drugs.

A 100-percent examination followed conducted with the presence of PDEA agents.

On June 7, a warrant of seizure against the shipments has been issued.

The consignees, including Lunzaga, will face smuggling charges.

 
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