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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Agents seize ‘kush’ worth P158m in North Harbor

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Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service agents at the Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP) seized more than P158 million worth of dried marijuana or kush in North Harbor Manila.

Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Bien Rubio stated that the recent operation accomplished by CIIS-MICP resulting in the seizure of 132.288 kilos of marijuana, aligns with the bureau’s intensified efforts to curb illegal drug entry into the Philippines.

The marijuana was in vacuum-sealed packages inside six balikbayan boxes from Thailand and consigned to a certain Mary Gail Quesada and Rainier Quesada via the Marcelo D. Laylo Cargo Forwarders.

“Sending balikbayan boxes is the simple tradition of Filipinos of giving gifts to their families and friends, but look how these criminal elements use them to smuggle illegal drugs into our country. No matter how many times they try, the full utilization of our personnel in shipment monitoring and available resources will foil any smuggling attempt,” Rubio said.

Customs chief intelligence and investigation officer Verne Enciso said the CIIS-MICP men requested issuance of an alert order last February 28, 2024, after receiving derogatory information that the shipment contained illegal drugs and other misdeclared and undeclared items.

“Originally, the shipment was declared as consolidated balikbayan boxes and personal effects from Thailand. But we’ve already seen this modus before, so after vetting the information that we received, we immediately went to work to thwart this smuggling activity,” he said.

The initial examination showed that the six balikbayan boxes contained a total of 132,288 grams or 132.288 kilograms of suspected dried marijuana or kush.

The breakdown of the suspected marijuana found per balikbayan box is as follows: 20 vacuum-sealed packages with 1,009 grams per package in the first box, 25 vacuum-sealed packages with 1,047 grams per package in the second box, and 25 vacuum-sealed packages with 1,034 grams per package in the third box.

There were also 20 vacuum-sealed packages with 1,007 grams per package in the fourth box and 20 vacuum-sealed packages with 1,021 grams per package in the fifth box.

In the sixth box, there were 15 vacuum-sealed packages with 1,021 grams of marijuana per package and 16 vacuum-sealed packages with 263 grams of kush cake and cream per package.

Confirmatory samples were turned over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), while all six balikbayan boxes were returned to the container for safekeeping.

Customs Deputy Commissioner Juvymax Uy commended that the foiled smuggling attempt shows the BOC’s dedication.

“When an operation stops a potential smuggling activity concerning illegal drugs, it also effectively saves a life. Keeping illegal drugs from our streets is not the work of one agency alone; it must be a combined and coordinated effort that trickles from the leadership down to our agents on the ground,” he said.

The consignees, senders, and recipients of the balikbayan boxes will possibly face charges in violation of Section 118 (prohibited importation and exportation) and Section 1400 (misdeclaration) in goods declaration in relation to Section 1113 (property subject to seizure and forfeiture) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

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