The Tanza drug operation

"Congratulations to PDEA."


However one looks at the anti-drug operation conducted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Tanza, Cavite that netted 270 kilos of methamphetamine, it was an outstanding and huge success. PDEA should give itself a pat in the back.

To put the operation in its proper perspective, that old blockbuster movie French Connection which earned actor Gene Hackman an Oscar whose plot depicted the operation on how illegal drugs were recovered in France in the 1970s, only accounted for 20 kilos of cocaine. The Tanza operation was about 13 times bigger.

There are many things that we can take from this operation. One is that it indicates that the anti-drug war is far from over. It is very much alive and seems to be flourishing. Another is that maybe, this is a good time to look at current strategies and tactics to see if change is needed. And still another is that the Tanza operation is the kind of police effort that the public is expecting to be done with more frequency rather than concentrating police resources on small-time dealers in many squatter colonies scattered all over the metro area. Two foreign nationals were killed in the operation which also shows that majority of the supply of prohibited drugs comes from overseas which are smuggled to our country.

As explained by the Executive Director of PDEA Aaron Aquino, the smugglers are going back to the old system of loading the drugs on ships and bringing the prohibited drugs close to our shores where small boats go out to sea for the purpose of retrieving the shabu for distribution to big-time drug lords in the country.

It is generally believed among law enforcement agencies that the principal source of shabu is China. Most of the big-time dealers arrested and killed in the past were Chinese nationals. The criminal elements from China who are engaged in the illegal drug trade can come here easily due to the government policy of visa-free travel by Chinese nationals to the country.

Whether PDEA is doing it already or not, it should maintain a permanent coordinating arrangement with the Chinese police authorities for the purpose of monitoring Chinese drug cartel operation here. The Chinese government has in fact intimated its willingness to establish this and PDEA should take advantage of it.

The illegal drug trade is a giant transnational operation netting billions of dollars in profits. It is doubtful whether this country with its very limited resources can really solve the problem on its own. It is elementary in law enforcement that if the police go after the big-time dealers and distributors, supply will eventually dry up or at least trickle to the very minimum. But judging from the daily news that the public gets, the supply of shabu circulating in the country is not diminishing at all.

The price is usually the best indicator of whether the supply of shabu is steady, going up or going down. All indications is that prices are basically steady. This simply means that all the shabu that the police or PDEA are recovering are being replenished without much difficulty. It also shows the magnitude of the problem because going after big drug lords consisting of manufacturers and suppliers is a transnational police problem and this makes it extremely difficult to solve the problem.

As an example, the United States with all its power and resources could hardly dent its own drug problem. How much more for us? Illegal drugs whether shabu, cocaine or the so called opioid problems, are killing more and more people in America.

The coastline of the Philippines is longer than that of the US which makes it difficult to intercept smugglers bringing in illegal drugs. This may be due to poor intelligence or lack of resources that makes patrolling our shorelines a lot more difficult.

Three years after the government anti-drug war was launched, killing thousands of alleged drug offenders in the process, we still have to see a credible study undertaken by the police or other think-tank groups to show how far the government has gone in solving the country’s pervasive drug problem. All that we get are bulletins issued by the police from time to time outlining some of their successful operations like the one in Cavite. I do not know whether all the law enforcement agencies have ever joined hands to conduct a strategic review of the anti-drug campaign for the purpose of recommending to the President new tactics and strategies if that is what is required. Or, are these agencies just waiting for instructions from the President who probably believes that he has a much better understanding of the drug problem?

Whatever it is, it is time that law enforcement agencies should take another look at the methods that are being used to solve the problem both strategically and tactically, for the purpose of coming up with some new approaches if there are any more left out there instead of the usual raids on squatter areas and buy-bust operations netting five to ten sachets of shabu.

This is the reason why the Tanza success is welcome indeed. We need more of the Cavite-type operation because it appears to have been conducted in the true tradition of good old-fashioned police detective work. The street value of that Tanza haul is worth about P2 billion which is a lot. A dozen or more successful operations of that type may be a lot to ask but is needed in order to reduce supply.

Congratulations to PDEA.

Topics: Florencio Fianza , The Tanza drug operation , Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency , PDEA
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