Manila port chief sacked over big shabu shipments

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña has sacked BoC-Manila International Container Port district collector Vener Baquiran and ordered the investigation of an accredited importer following the discovery of 500 kilos of shabu worth P3.5 billion at the MICP and another in Cavite.

“I have ordered the revocation of the accreditation of SMYD Trading. I have also recommended the relief of the district collector of MICP,” Lapeña told a weekend news briefing.

 “We will file the appropriate charges against the importer, SMYD trading, and the customs broker that facilitated this shipment,” Lapeña said after the bureau seized the shipment which came from Malaysia last Tuesday.

The shabu in Cavite was discovered after the BoC conducted a “backtracking“ of the shipment which was consigned to Vecaba Ent. 

In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the latest reported drug shipment that had been smuggled in showed that big-time drug lords and smugglers would become more daring as local supply dwindled.

In a statement, Roque said, “We view the latest reported foreign drug shipment as a sign that big-time drug manufacturers and smugglers are becoming bolder with a dwindled local supply as they feel the pressure from the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.”

“Our authorities are now working with their foreign counterparts to help with the probe, he added.

Last Tuesday, authorities intercepted nearly 500 kilograms of suspected shabu at the Port of Manila, after receiving a tip from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police.

The shipment was consigned to Vecaba trading that arrived in MICP on June 28 but was abandoned by the consignee.  

“As a result of our backtracking investigation, it was identified that it was consigned to SMYD Trading, owned by Marina dela Cruz Signapan, with customs broker Katrina Grace Cuasay, with the shipment declared as a magnetic lifter.  The shipment passed through the normal procedure. It was tagged red, had been x-rayed and examined, but, as what PDEA had said, the drugs inside it cannot be detected,”  he said.

He said the BoC was against a very sophisticated, well-funded international syndicate that was operating a large-scale drug smuggling business. 

“This problem is not unique to the Philippines, and even countries with higher capabilities, continue to struggle against these drug cartels,” Lapeña said.

He added: “If there is indeed collusion and any form of participation, or neglect of duty in any form, whether minor or extensive, of any customs employee with the consignee of this drug shipment, or if in fact, they have conspired with these international drug syndicates, they shall all be brought to the surface, and they shall regretfully pay the price for their reprehensible actions.  “I will bring them to justice and have them suffer under the full weight of the law.”

Topics: Isidro Lapeña , Manila International Container Port , Vener Baquiran , shabu
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