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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Agents seize P218m drug haul

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Bureau of Customs (BOC) agents assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have intercepted a smuggled shipment of shabu worth more than P218 million.

The shipment, which arrived from Zimbabwe on April 13 at the Paircargo warehouse facility in NAIA, was misdeclared as “machinery mufflers,” which authorities said, was a clear case of technical smuggling.

“Our Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) at NAIA verified the information we received. After which, we tasked the X-ray Inspection Project (XIP) to check the dubious images that were then found to be suspicious,” BOC Commissioner Bien Rubio said.

“The examination of the shipment and K-9 sweeping discovered what was described as white crystalline substances hidden inside the mufflers. The initial test conducted on these substances yielded a positive result for the presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu,” he added.

Import documents showed that the package was shipped by a certain Isaac Chikore from Harare, Zimbabwe, and consigned to Christine Tigranes from Balingasa Queen, Manila.

CIIS Director Verne Enciso said the substances found totaled 32.13 kilograms.

“This operation is in line with our President’s directive to intensify our anti-drugs smuggling campaign by using our massive international and local networks to determine the source of the illegal drugs trade,” he said.

The operation came after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. led the inspection of over two tons of shabu worth P13.3 billion in Batangas, where he hailed agents for the operation’s success without resorting to violence.

“This is the biggest shipment of shabu na nahuli natin. But not one person died. Walang namatay, walang nagputukan, walang nasaktan. Basta’t in-operate natin na dahan-dahan,” said Marcos.

The BOC expressed its full support for the current strategy of using intelligence capabilities in the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Rubio said the bureau will also keep operating and gathering intelligence, citing President Marcos’ remark that it’s the “only key to bringing down the drug syndicates in the country.”

Deputy Commissioner for Customs Intelligence Group Juvymax Uy underscored the importance of intelligence gathering in the agency’s operations.

“Key to stopping these shipments is our ability to collect intelligence and the experience and knowledge that our officers have gathered over the years. Our officers are well-trained to identify these shipments that might contain potentially dangerous substances to protect our people,” he said.

Tigranes, who is now in police custody, is facing 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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