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BOC scores biggest seizure of illegal drugs at point of entry

P400 million shabu seized; suspects arrested

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THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday, March 20, 2023, intercepted a huge shipment of shabu from Guinea, West Africa, worth more than P400 million at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the government’s biggest apprehension thus far of illegal drugs at the point of entry.

Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Y. Rubio and Intelligence Group (IG) deputy commissioner Juvymax Uy, immediately rushed at the Pair Cargo Warehouse in Pasay City to personally check on the seizure.

The illegal drugs was initially flagged “for verification” by personnel assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from the X-Ray Inspection Project (XIP) under Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang on March 16, the day after its arrival.

But for the alertness of the XIP, the shipment could have entered the country as there was no prior derogatory information on its actual content– Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang, XIP head

The assigned lady XIP inspector flagged the shipment declared as ‘spare parts’ after getting suspicious of the image showing in the X-ray machine. Mangaoang requested that the inspector not be named for this article for her own protection.

Mangaoang noted that but for the alertness of the XIP, the shipment could have entered the country as there was no prior derogatory information on its actual content.

On physical inspection, Rubio said customs officers, assisted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) found 58.93 kilos of shabu with an estimated street value of P400,724,000.

Additional information gathered by this reporter disclosed that the shipment, consisting of 5 yellow boxes, arrived last March 15, 2023 covered by AWB 176329334274 from Conarky, Guinea.

After being scanned the next day by the assigned XIP inspector, it was marked “X” and set aside for verification due to “irregular and suspicious image.”

On March 20, the assigned customs examiner, together with operatives from the PDEA, started the physical examination that yielded the following:

Box 1—10.226 kilos of shabu; Box 2—13.332 kilos of shabu; Box 3—13.354 kilos of shabu; Box 4—10.292 kilos of shabu; and, Box 5—11.726 kilos of shabu for a total yield of P58.93 kilos of shabu.

The illegal drugs in 60 ‘Ziplock’ plastic bags were concealed inside 20 engine pulleys of two different sizes, big and small.

The shipping manifest also disclosed that the illegal drugs was shipped by a certain ‘Diallo Sandaly’ from Sonfonia Commune de Ratona, Conakry Guinee (Guinea).

The X-ray image of the ‘spare parts’ shipment from Guinea, West Africa that made the assigned XIP inspector suspicious (photo: XIP)

Two persons, identified in other news reports as ‘Melanio Nodado Lopez’ 37, and ‘Steve Tilimban Caro Jr.,’ 27, both residents of Sta. Mesa, Manila, were also arrested when they stepped forward to claim the shipment and were also present during Monday’s physical examination.

Investigation is still ongoing as Lopez claimed that “somebody” paid him P5,000 to claim the shipment using a voter’s ID in the name of the recipient, ‘Edward Suldivila Fajardo’ with address at 149 Scout Limbaga Street, Sacred Heart, Quezon City (paragraph updated, March 21, 2023; 4:42pm– Editor).

To recall, this would be the XIP’s third major illegal drugs interdiction for this month under Mangaong.

Last March 10, 2023, thru the XIP, the BOC also seized at the Pair Cargo Warehouse 11.756 kilos of shabu worth P79.971 kilos from Punjab, Pakistan. This was followed two days later with the seizure of 6 kilos of shabu worth P40.8 kilos from the luggage of a female passenger from Madagasy Madagascar (see also Pinoy Expose, March 20, 2023).

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