Probe on P1.8-B drug shipment should focus on entire modus — port chief

Published March 26, 2019, 9:57 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Betheena Unite

Investigation on the seized P1.8-billion drug shipment at a port in Manila should zero in not only on Customs officials but to the entire scheme of the syndicate, a top port official said Tuesday.

166 kilos or 1 billion pesos worth of shabu concealed in tea bag packaging were seized in a house at Apitong St., Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. According to PDEA, the drugs are from the Golden Triangle syndicate. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)
166 kilos or 1 billion pesos worth of shabu concealed in tea bag packaging were seized in a house at Apitong St., Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. According to PDEA, the drugs are from the Golden Triangle syndicate. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Instead of trying to pin down any employee or official of the Bureau of Customs due to the recent drug haul, the investigation should focus on how the drug syndicate behind the shipment was able to slip past two countries before being intercepted in the Philippines, Manila International Container Port District Collector Erastus Sandino Austria said.

“We are going to study how this entire process [pworks]. They (customs officials) are not the enemies, the people are not the enemies they are the victims of the whole thing, too,” Austria stressed.

The district collector said the overall modus of the syndicate will be investigated.

“Kasi lumabas ng China ‘yan ‘di nila na-detect sa export clearance. Dumaan sa Vietnam, na-transship siya ‘di rin nakita, so parang yun kailangan natin tingnan. Lahat tayo binubulag. Rather than ano na naman ginawa mali ng tao natin. Hindi naman nila kagustuhan yun (The drug shipment was able to evade China without being detected on the export clearance. It went to Vietnam and the transhipment was successful, so that’s what we need to look at. They took us by surprise. Rather than trying to figure out what went wrong with our people again. They did not also want that to happen),” Austria said.

He said intelligence work and exchanges is really the key to intercept such big drug shipments.

Ongoing backtracking investigation, according to Austria, showed that the Wealth Lotus Empire Corporation, the consignee of the drug shipment concealed in hundreds of sacks of plastic resin, is a regular consignee and importer.

They have had 16 importations at the Manila International Container Port this year; however, Austria said this does not mean that they have been smuggling drugs into the country on all those times.

All transactions made by the corporation will be probed, Austria added. Some of their previous importations came from Italy, other European countries, and the US.

 
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