Drug syndicates resorting to air mail to smuggle drugs in PH

By Benjie Lim Vergara

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THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said international drug syndicates have started resorting heavily on using the country’s postal services to do their illegal trade.

According to PDEA Intelligence Agent III Gerald Javier, drug syndicates are trying to obtain legitimate Philippine home addresses as part of their strategy to traffic illegal drugs in the country. He noted that all seized parcels or package by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) are Manila bound but cannot be delivered because of fictitious names and addresses.

Javier admitted that this development is a puzzle for the PDEA because it appears that although drug traffickers are now transporting illegal drugs via airmail, they eventually abandon the contraband to the BoC.

The BoC said all parcels that were issued seizure warrant and detention have no claimants. It added that all parcels confiscated at NAIA and Clark were subjected to a controlled delivery, but since the names and addresses of the consignees turned out to be fictitious, these operations were not successful.

“Maybe it is a diversion. We don’t know and can’t conclude,” Javier said.

Javier is one of the PDEA officers who witnessed the BoC’s turn over of 17.96 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and 1.03 kilos of dried marijuana to the PDEA for proper disposal. The contraband items were intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Clark International Airport (CIA).

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As this developed, BoC District III Collector Carmelita Talusan disclosed that the bureau has strengthened the protocol in monitoring airborne packages since the beginning of this year.

“All package and parcels arriving at the bonded warehouses such as FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the government’s Central Mail Exchange Center are strictly monitored for we know that contraband goods are mixed with legitimate shipments,” Talusan said, adding that the BoC’s vigilance has resulted in the foiling every week of postal drug smuggling.

Despite their continuing failure, drug traffickers have continued to send illegal drugs via the postal services, she said.

According to BoC records a number of illegal drugs seized came from the United States and usually declared as DVD players, furniture, cereals, and baby carriers. The record further shows that these narcotics were in five inbound parcels that were intercepted within the span of three weeks from May 26 to June 7, 2018.

Moreover, the report of the Office of the District Collector of NAIA also showed that two kilograms of shabu, which is part of the 17.96 kilos were seized on June 20 this year at Clark, was declared as bed foam.

Former PDEA Chief now BoC Commissioner Isidro Lapena Photo ©

Meanwhile, BoC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña directed all customs collector to be vigilant and properly coordinate their efforts in protecting the country’s borders against the entry of illegal drugs and other contraband.

Early last week, the BoC District III has intercepted misdeclared shoes and non-Food and Drug Administration approved Goree beauty products and glutathione products.

“These cannot be done without the efforts of the Customs officers who are doing the examination on the ground, as well as the BoC’s strengthened coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency,” Lapeña observed.

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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