P148-M drugs found inside canned goods, clothes from U.S.

MANILA, Philippine – The Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) found one of their biggest busts yet from a series of shipments from the United States, uncovering P148.43 million worth of shabu (methamphetamine), ecstasy, and marijuana from items "declared" as canned goods and clothes.

The yield was spread in display across the first floor of the PDEA headquarters in Quezon City on Thursday, January 17.

PDEA chief Director General Aaron Aquino remarked that smugglers have become more “creative” as the Philippine government has stepped up in its anti-drug campaign.

The first two: On December 26 last year, the BOC-Clark flagged a shipment from Las Vegas, Nevada after inspectors noted “anomalies in the content” of the cargo after X-ray.

The PDEA jumped in to examine the shipment with their K9 and found 5 plastic packs of shabu and 200 ecstasy tablets inside 5 cans of what were labeled to be Italian peeled tomatoes. The shipment was declared as clothing.

Another shipment from the US was flagged on January 10 after an X-ray inspector saw “organic substances” after scanning a cargo that was declared to be filled with “used shirts”.

After digging through the garments, the BOC and PDEA found 6 packs of marijuana leaves, wrapped in several pieces of clothing.

The big catch: Similar to the December cargo, 7 boxes declared as canned goods and clothing from Las Vegas were flagged by the BOC on January 14.

The BOC and PDEA found 8 cans of “Hunts Pasta Sauce” in each of the boxes. After opening the cans, they found that each contained a plastic pack of shabu.

The 56 packs yielded 14.66 kilograms of shabu worth P99.73 million.

The abandoned: Seeing a pattern, the BOC and the PDEA sought to examine similar shipments that passed through Clark but have not been claimed.

An abandoned shipment consigned to a certain Marlon Evangelista was the only delivery so far to be examined. It contained what appeared to be 16 canned goods, which turned out to be packs of shabu.

The PDEA said the narcotics weighed 4.34 kg and pegged its value at P29.52 million. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.