By Jeffrey Damicog
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested three persons including a drug “mule” and intercepted 3.297 kilograms of cocaine being transported out of the country.
NBI Deputy Director Vicente de Guzman III identified the arrested persons as suspected drug mule Ma. Clara Bedico, her alleged handler Alvin Avila, and her alleged recruiter Antonette Mendiola.
De Guzman said the NBI acted based on intelligence information that West African Drug Syndicate (WADS) has been transporting cocaine using the Philippines as a transit point.
De Guzman said Bedica and Avila were arrested last March 28 at a fastfood joint of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City by agents of the NBI’s Special Action Unit (NBI-SAU).
While Avila awaited for the rebooking of her flight to Thailand, NBI-SAU Chief Emeterio Dongallo Jr. said agents approached the two who consented that their luggage be checked.
Inside Avila’s traveling bag, NBI agents found the cocaine concealed inside the pages of five children’s books.
Dongallo said Avila managed to get the cocaine through the baggage counters undetected.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said a kilo of cocaine is worth P5 million.
Following their arrest, the NBI arrested Mendiola during following-up operations in Pasig City on March 29.
The suspects have been subjected to inquest proceedings before the Department of Justice violating Section 11 (possession of dangerous drugs) and Section 5 (transportation of dangerous drugs) in relation to Section 26 (conspiracy to transport dangerous drugs) under Republic Act 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Dongallo said the cocaine was supposed to be transported from Thailand to Brazil where it also originated.
The NBI official explained the drug syndicate course it through Thailand because cocaine there is expensive.
The official also noted Filipinos can also easily travel to Brazil visa-free.
Meanwhile, Dongallo warned Filipina women against being enticed to transport to other countries pieces of jewelry since they might be carrying illegal drugs.
Dongallo explained members of the WADS, through their Filipina partners, recruit Filipinas to be couriers through work abroad scheme posted on Facebook.