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Abandoned baggage yields P19 million shabu

Shabu claimant nabbed in Mandaluyong

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THE X-Ray Inspection Project (XIP) of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) uncovered another shipment of illegal drugs from Africa after it was left behind by its owner who was not allowed to enter the country last year.

Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang, XIP head, in his initial report to Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio, said she immediately ordered the assigned XIP officer at the NAIA Terminal 1 to closely examine the black trolly backpack that has been languishing at the Interline Baggage Release (IBR) since December 2022.

The baggage was turned over to the XIP for inspection on May 17, 2023 by the Office of the Deputy Collector for Passenger Services that Mangaoang also previously headed.

After the XIP officer reported of seeing “suspicious images,” Mangaoang called for a customs examiner to conduct a 100 percent inspection of the baggage in the presence of the other members of the Customs Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force (CAIDTF)/NAIA Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group.

The examination confirmed the presence of shabu weighing 2.846 kilos concealed in the back lining of the backpack valued at P19.352 million.

The 1.8 kilos of shabu recovered from an unnamed suspect who was arrested in Mandaluyong City during a ‘controlled delivery operation’ by the BOC and PDEA last May 11, 2023 (photo credit: BOC-PIAD).

Investigation disclosed that the baggage was brought in by one ‘Sara Tabitya’ from Uganda who arrived in the country last December 24, 2022 via a Philippine Airlines flight, ahead of the baggage’s arrival on December 26, 2022 onboard flight ET644 from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

However, the suspect was unable to claim her baggage after she was excluded from entering the country, Mangaoang said.

In a related news, a suspect was arrested by the CAIDTF last May 11, 2023 in Mandaluyong City after taking the delivery of 1.808 kilos of shabu worth P12.475 million that arrived earlier at the Port of Clark.

The shipment, which arrived a day before, came from California, USA declared as “dolls” and “car toys.”

However, the presence of illegal drugs was immediately noticed by the alert XIP officers assigned at the Port of Clark, which was confirmed during actual examination.

The CAIDTF immediately arranged for a ‘controlled delivery operation’ the next day that resulted to the arrest of the 42-years old suspect whose name was withheld by the BOC.

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