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Thursday, June 13, 2024

BOC confiscates P102m smuggled marijuana, vapes

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Bureau of Customs (BOC) intelligence agents assigned at the Manila International Container Port have seized smuggled kush and vapes with cannabis content worth more than P102 million.

The operatives conducted a physical examination of several balikbayan boxes from Thailand, resulting in the discovery of the contraband on Tuesday at the North Harbor Manila.

The shipment contained 200 balikbayan boxes, but five of them gave positive indication of prohibited substances as detected by a member of the agency’s sniffing K9 team .

Upon inspection, the Customs men found some 82 kilograms of marijuana or kush and 1,881 pieces of disposable distillate vape pens with cannabis content.

“For Filipino families, balikbayan boxes symbolize their love and longing for their loved ones. Unfortunately, it is now being used by unscrupulous individuals to smuggle in illegal drugs, vapes, and many other items. Here in the BOC, we want to assure our kababayans that we’re working hard to get to the bottom of this,” Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio said. 

Customs intelligence chief Verne Enciso said the physical examination was the result of the alert order issued last Feb. 28 following intelligence information about the shipment consigned to the Marcelo Laylo Cargo Forwarders with the recipient listed as Gerard Cruz.  

“There were 200 balikbayan boxes in the shipment. Out of those 200, our K9 dogs indicated that five balikbayan boxes may be positive for the presence of illegal substances. Upon opening these boxes, we found marijuana or kush and vapes with cannabis content,” he said. 

The first balikbayan box contained 11 black pouches with approximately 500 grams of kush, 12 transparent pouches with another 500 grams, and two small boxes with 47 and 43 pieces of vapes, respectively. 

In the second balikbayan box, the BOC agents found 12 transparent pouches with about 500 grams of kush, one small box with 47 pieces of vape, and one medium box with 782 pieces of vape. 

A third balikbayan box yielded two medium boxes with 12 clear pouches of 500 grams of kush each and two small boxes with 45 pieces of vape in each box.  

The fourth balikbayan box was found to have two medium boxes—the first one had 11 black pouches with 500 grams of kush, while the second one had 782 pieces of vape. 

In the fifth balikbayan box, the agents discovered two medium boxes—the first one had 22 clear pouches and the second one had 72 clear pouches all with 500 grams of kush inside—and two small boxes with 45 pieces of vape in each.

Deputy Commissioner for Customs Intelligence Group Juvymax Uy disclosed that the shipment was originally declared as consolidated balikbayan boxes and personal effects from Thailand before they were found with illegal drugs, misdeclared, and undeclared items. 

“We cannot emphasize enough the importance of what our officers do on the ground. This latest operation is a testament to that, as well as proof that our ongoing border security mission is disrupting the flow of these smuggled items, making it harder for these organizations to bend our laws to their will,” he said. 

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