JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla announced Thursday the seizure of 530 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu with an estimated value of P3.6 billion in San Jose Malino, Mexico City, Pampanga.
At a news briefing, Remulla said there were individuals arrested, including foreign nationals, during the operation but withheld their identities pending further investigation and ongoing operations to arrest the other persons involved in the drug shipment.
“We have a list of people to be arrested. It is being worked on by the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation]. NBI is on the job now pursuing these people. This is a very intricate operation planned months ago,” Remulla said.
He added the NBI task force against illegal drugs, through its undercover operative, managed to penetrate the drug syndicate responsible for the shipment of the illegal drugs, which arrived at Subic Port, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on September 18, 2023 from Thailand on board vessel Sitc Shekou.
Remulla noted that the operation started in 2020 and ended last Wednesday when the combined elements of the NBI, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) seized the illegal drugs after determining the identities of the personalities involved in the shipment.
Prior to the seizure of the illegal drugs, the NBI, PDEA, NICA and Bureau of Customs (BOC) under Remulla’s guidance conducted a controlled delivery operation of 530 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu to its destination at Gate 1, Empire 999 Realty Corporation, Purok 5, San Jose Malino, Mexico, Pampanga on September 24, 2023.
Upon inspection, it was discovered that the illegal drugs were concealed in 59 brown boxes of 530 mixed red tea bags and golden tea bags.
Each box carried with it a plastic bag of chicharon or dried fish to conceal the illegal drugs along with cases of soft drinks and sacks of feeds with markings in the Thai language.
Remulla said the NBI is now preparing the filing of charges with the National Prosecution Service against those involved in the shipment for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002.
The NBI will also conduct a financial investigation together with the Anti-Money Laundering Council against the corporations being used as conduits to smuggle the illegal drugs into the country.
Likewise, Remulla said authorities are now closely monitoring the activities in Subic port in light of the seizure of the illegal drugs.
He said they have received information that smuggling activities are rampant in Subic, including the smuggling of agriculture products.
“Actually we have also pinpointed Subic as the source of agricultural smuggling and many other smuggling activities that’s why we have to watch over Subic and from then on we have to watch over our ports,” Remulla added.
Remulla also said targeting the sources of illegal drugs in the country will be one of the strategies under the present administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
He said government agencies concerned in the campaign against illegal drugs met on Wednesday to review and explore other approaches to address the problem.
“One of the things discussed yesterday was that we would prefer search warrants to buy bust operations because this is where convictions are really done and honest to goodness surveillance is conducted so that cases are build-up properly,” Remulla said.
He assured that government prosecutors would file strong cases against those involved in illegal drugs to secure a conviction.
“The only way we can deter the commission of crime in the country is to make sure that these criminals are charged and convicted…So that’s the deterring factor that we are after.”