The joint operation of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) have busted one of the biggest drug shipments in the country’s history on Tuesday at the Manila International Container Port.

Inside the seized one 20-footer container DFSU1941859 with BL number 3108100599-22 are estimated to be more or less 500 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu conspicuously hidden in two magnetic scrap lifter worth estimated P3.4 billion.

“The port operator of the MICP has sent a notice of abandonment on July 30 to the MICP district collector, 30 days after the consignee failed to file an entry for the shipment which arrived on June 28,” Commissioner Isidro Lapena said.

After the notice of abandonment, the Bureau of Customs proceeded with the standard operating procedures for examining the abandoned container. While waiting for the examination, the BOC has received an information from PDEA of a shipment that was shipped to MICP allegedly containing illegal drugs.

Upon inspection of the abandoned shipment from Malaysia, the BOC and PDEA authorities found two magnetic scrap lifter which is commonly used equipment in scrap yards. During confirmatory test of PDEA yesterday afternoon, the white crystalline substance concealed inside tested positive for shabu.

MICP District Collector Vener Baquiran has issued a hold order to prevent the release of the shipment from the customs custody.

The initial result of the preliminary investigation showed that shipment belongs to Vecaba Trading of No. 712 Galicia St., Sampaloc, Manila and was declared to contain door frames. The record shows that the company owned by a certain Vedasto Cabral Baraquel is not accredited with the Bureau of Customs.

“The consignee is not accredited by the Bureau of Customs. I believe he intends to smuggle this shipment without the clearing process of the BOC. They did not see any chance to smuggle this because of the intensified anti-smuggling operations and the constant alerting of the bureau. It will be very risky on their part if they will push through with the shipment,” the Customs chief said.

“This is the biggest shipment seized since I assumed as the BOC chief in August 2017.

“The fact that we prevented the shipment to go to the market is an indication that some BOC employees do not want to cooperate with them. I would like to warn them if they still have dealings with drug syndicates because we will eventually catch up with them,” the Bureau chief said.

The seized drugs were turned over to PDEA yesterday for follow up investigation and proper disposition.

In a memorandum dated October 19, 2017, Commissioner Lapena has ordered all BOC personnel to follow the proper protocols for the handling of dangerous drugs within the bureau.

All shipments found to contain dangerous drugs within the jurisdiction of BOC shall be turned over to PDEA, the lead agency in anti-smuggling campaign, for investigation and prosecution of cases involving importation of dangerous drugs.

In 2018, the Bureau of Customs was able to seize P 3,988,519,880.00 worth of smuggled illegal drugs and arrested 12 personalities. ####

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