Government agents have foiled another attempt by arms smugglers who used balikbayan boxes to transport high-end ammunitions worth P1 million from the United States.
The shipment of six balikbayan boxes, which was consigned to a certain Arnel Velasco but coursed through Lario Vecencio, 54, of San Marcelino, Zambales, arrived at the Manila International Container Port on Dec. 6 and was sent by one Alex Agustin, of Gilroy, California.
Authorities said the seized shipment was misdeclared as household goods and personal effects.
Found inside the balikbayan boxes were 10 boxes of Rifle Line ammunition (50 cartridges of 30 carbine spm 110 gr/7.13 per box); 30 boxes of Wolf performance ammunition (20 cartridges of 7.62 x 39mm per box); 50 33-round magazines of 9mm Glock; 22 military backpacks and accessories; three used T-shirts; three BTLS bottled water and a bottle of hot sauce.
MICP Customs chief intelligence officer Alvin Enciso said Vecencio was the same person who was arrested in September for his involvement in the same modus operandi in Port of Zambales.
Enciso suspects that the syndicate behind the smuggling intended to sell these “expensive and specialized types of ammunitions in the underground gun market.”
“There is a demand for high-end ammunition in the country and it reaps big profit, and that is why there are those who take the risk and continue to illegally import ammunition into the country,” he said.
Last September, Customs agents seized firearms accessories worth P5.5 million also concealed in six balikbayan boxes declared as goods, and arrested two men, including Vecencio, who tried to claim the boxes at the Port of Zambales.
Seized were 6,000 rounds of live ammunitions of TulAmmo 7.62x39 mm caliber, 166 pieces Chip Mc Cormick Power Magazine 10 Rounder .45 ACP, 39 pieces Troy Industries Inc. Part Number Mac 30, Glock Magazine 30 Rounder, Roger Box, Troy Battle Ready Magazine 30 Rounder, 92 pieces 30 Rounder Glock 9mm Magazines, 29 pieces Carbine Extended Magazines, 29 pieces Kim Pro .45 Magazines, 60 pieces Troy Industries Inc. Mag 30 Case 3E21, 30 pieces Pro Mag Saiga Magazine 12 gauge, water canister, and other gun accessories.
The seizure following information that several balikbayan boxes that came from the United States contain illegal items.
Also found on top of the boxes were merchandises like coffee, peanut butter, brown rice to conceal the contraband.
Arrested during the operation were Vecencio and Jun B. Navarro of Sta. Maria, Castillejos, Zambales who received the packages on behalf of Gregorio dela Cruz, the consignee of the balikbayan boxes.
Gregorio dela Cruz is still at large. The package was sent by Anselmo dela Cruz of 1899 Fleming Ave., San Jose, California.
Vecencio and Navarro denied any knowledge of the concealed gun accessories and pointed to Dela Cruz as “the final recipient of the balikbayan boxes.”