By Aaron Recuenco and Chito Chavez
Government anti-narcotics agents killed two suspected foreign drug traffickers and seized some P1.9 billion worth of shabu in a buy-bust operation that eventually led to a shootout in Tanza, Cavite Sunday afternoon.
The operation also bolstered suspicion that another batch of shabu shipment had recently been spirited into the country since the two slain Chinese were reportedly repacking nearly 300 kilos of shabu when authorities chanced upon them.
Director General Aaron Aquino, head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), said the operation occurred at 4 p.m. when his men were able to negotiate to buy a kilo of shabu from a suspected drug pusher.
“There were only two suspects because maybe it’s Sunday and the other workers were not around. They fought off and they were killed during the operation,” said Aquino.
He identified the two slain suspects as Vincent Du Lim and Hong Li Wen whom he said are both Chinese. Seized from them were a .45 pistol and a 9mm pistol.
Aquino said they also recovered some 274 kilos of shabu with an estimated street value of P1.9 billion.
Aquino said it all started when his men were able to contact the suspects for the purchase of a kilo of shabu.
“What they did is to instruct my men, who acted as poseur buyers, to go directly to their area. And this led to this successful operation,” said Aquino.
He explained that since it was Sunday yesterday, there were no available drug couriers that would sell the illegal drugs to the PDEA poseur buyers—the reason why they instructed the latter to go directly to their place.
The place of operation was on the Antero Soriano Highway of Barangay Amaya 1 in Tanza town.
When the PDEA agents proceeded to the area, they were able to see the two Chinese suspects repacking a huge quantity of shabu.
It was then that the PDEA agents sought the assistance of other law enforcement agencies.
“It’s a warehouse being used as a repacking area,” said Aquino in describing the area where the operation was conducted.
The official said that the area was an ideal place for repacking due to its proximity to Metro Manila.
“Why Cavite? Because of the proximity of Cavite to Metro Manila where their distribution and transactions is easier,” said Aquino.
Aquino suspected that the illegal drugs was sneaked into the country through what he described was shipside smuggling.
In this modus, international syndicate would drop the illegal drugs in the high seas using big cargo ships. The illegal drugs would then be picked up by smaller vessels, which in turn, would transport the illegal drugs to the warehouse.
In this case, Aquino said the drop-off from big ships appeared to have transpired off the waters of Ilocos Region. It was then transported to the warehouse in Tanza which was raided by the PDEA.
Aquino said that international drugs syndicate appeared to have been forced to use the shipside smuggling since they are now having difficulty smuggling drugs ports.
It could be recalled that tons of shabu worth billions of pesos were able to make their way into the country allegedly due to the connivance of illegal drugs syndicates with corrupt employees and officials of the Bureau of Customs.
Shipside smuggling, however, is not a new modus since these were also reportedly done in the past.
Aquino suspected that the illegal drugs they seized had just arrived in the country recently.
“Palagay ko recent lang. It’s because illegal drugs with that quantity should not stay long in a warehouse. It should be repacked in the soonest possible for immediate distribution,” said Aquino.
“If these illegal drugs are not repacked and distributed immediately, the more there is a risk that it would be detected,” he added.
Another indication that the shabu had just been smuggled into the country, according to Aquino, was that the carton boxes in which the shabu was found were still wet.
While Aquino said that there was a strong possibility that the illegal drugs came from China, international syndicates may have tapped countries near the Philippines for the smuggling of the illegal drugs.