by Betheena Kae Unite and Jel Santos
A composite team, led by the Bureau of Customs (BOC), swooped down on two warehouses in Valenzuela City at dawn Friday and seized 604 kilos of shabu worth P6.4 billion surreptitiously hidden in five cylindrical roller printing machines from China.
The illegal drugs were uncovered when the BOC, assisted by the Northern Police District (NPD), the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), raided two warehouses on Aster Street in Paso de Blas, and F. Bautista Street in Ugong, both Valenzuela.
The seized illegal drugs were placed under PDEA and NBI custody.
Customs Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon disclosed that the twin raids were launched following an intelligence report provided by Zhang Xiaohui, director of International Enforcement Cooperation Division of Anti-Smuggling Bureau, General Administration of China Customs, stating that two warehouses were being used in illegal drugs operations.
With the information, Faeldon issued visitorial powers and Letter of Authority for the conduct of the operations.
Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service Director Neil Estrella said Fidel Anoche Dee, 54, was arrested for being the recipient of the illegal drugs.
Also arrested, according to Chief Supt. Roberto Fajardo, NPD director, were Milagros Pilon, 45; Milbert Pilos, 20; and a three-year-old boy.
Armed with the visitorial powers and Letter of Authority issued by Faeldon, the composite team went to the rented house of Dee on F. Bautista St. in Barangay Ugong.
“We followed the first delivery. One of the machines was delivered by the courier to the house rented by Dee. When the consignee took the package, policemen then went out and apprehended him and the people inside the house in Barangay Ugong,” Fajardo said in Filipino.
Senior Supt. Ronaldo Mendoza, Valenzuela Police chief, said they then proceeded to the warehouse of the courier on Aster St. in Barangay Paso de Blas, minutes after nabbing Dee.
“Four machines were still at the warehouse of the courier. Like the one delivered to the house of Dee, the machines have plastics bags containing shabu when opened,” Mendoza said.
Around 100 kilos of shabu was found hidden in each of the printing machines.
“We think the courier was also unaware that the packages contain shabu. The contrabands from China were surreptitiously hidden, and were tightly wrapped. We even used K-9 dogs to determine if there’s really shabu hidden inside the machines,” the Valenzuela Police chief said.
Faeldon said the successful operation manifests the strong commitment and cooperation between China and the Philippines in fighting illegal drugs.
“Our level of effective information sharing with China Customs Cooperation sends a strong warning to all those involved in the drugs trade,” Faeldon said.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
This was not the first time a very big haul of illegal drugs was seized in Valenzuela.
In January, 2016, about P200 million worth of shabu was found hidden inside 12 milling machines at a registered warehouse in Lawang Bato.
In that operation, police arrested two Filipino-Chinese identified as Sonny Ang and Benito Tuseco. One of the suspects even tried to escape aboard a car, but was nabbed after a short chase.
On July 22, 2016, suspected big-time drug lord Ray Mao “Meco” Tan was killed after a shootout. On that same day, police discovered a plastic factory and warehouse on T. Santiago St. in Barangay Lingunan, which was allegedly being used by Tan as a shabu laboratory.
Five people, four of them are Chinese nationals, were arrested inside the warehouse while sacks of chemicals used for shabu manufacture were seized during that operation.
Meanwhile, Mayor Rexlon “Rex” Gatchalian warned drug syndicates to stop using Valenzuela City as a “transit point,” saying the local government is now working with the NBI to pin down “drug warehouses.”