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INTERPOL led PH customs officers to a suspected drug mule at the NAIA

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A TIMELY tip from the International Police led Philippine authorities to arrest on Monday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport a 50-year old Bolivian who was caught with suspected liquid cocaine concealed in her winter jacket.

Maria Hinojosa Bazan was placed under arrest shortly after the suspected contraband was discovered in her checked-in baggage by Bureau of Customs agents. She had just arrived at about 6:49 pm. from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on board Ethiopian Airlines and was about to retrieve her luggage from NAIA Terminal 1 when she was subjected to a spot check.

Customs officials inspect the belongings of Bolivian Maria Hinojosa Bazan who was intercepted with undetermined amount of liquid cocaine on Monday night. Photo © Benjie L. Vergara

BOC District III Collector Ed Macabeo said the bureau received information from the Interpol that a Bolivian traveler, who is a suspected drug courier, will be arriving from Ethiopia with undetermined volume of prohibited drugs.

He added that Bazan had already retrieved her luggage from the Customs area when members of the Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Force Group (IADTIG) – Custom Executive Officer Sherwin Andrada, agent Ernesto Pracale, Customs Examiners Jericho Flores, Anthony Relucio and Custom supervisor Beth Pableo and Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA) personnel – stopped her for baggage inspection.

Macabeo said Bazan did not declared any items on her Customs declaration form even after the authorities asked her to fill it out because all her belongings will undergo rigid inspection. He added that during the inspection, BoC and PDEA personnel found a white liquid substance in her four winter jackets, which, after a series to tests, turned out to be cocaine.

Bazan and the seized liquid stuff were immediately turned over to PDEA for proper disposition.

Meanwhile, Macabeo assured the public that members of the IADITG are strictly monitoring every passenger arriving at the NAIA terminals.

Benjie Vergara
A veteran reporter covering the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. He is currently writing for Manila Times, the Philippines' oldest newspaper.

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