‘Golden Triangle’ syndicate behind P1.1B drug smuggling

Aaron N. Aquino

PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency chair, Director General Aaron N. Aquino yesterday tagged the notorious Golden Triangle Syndicate as behind the smuggling of a huge volume of shabu in the country, P1.1 billion of which were seized by PDEA agents in an anti-narcotics operation inside the posh Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City the other night.

The PDEA chair said he based his conclusion on the packaging of the confiscated more than 160 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride which bore the signature of the Golden Triangle Syndicate, a well-financed gang known for smuggling drugs in Malaysia, Indonesia,  Thailand and the Philippines. 

The drugs concealed in ‘Chinese tea wrappers’ and discovered in tea boxes and biscuit tins found inside no. 175 Apitong Street, Ayala Alabang Village were similar to a huge volume of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ previously confiscated by the PDEA in Zamboanga City as well as shabu recovered by the police in Malaysia and Myanmar in past years. 

Aquino said that the owner of the raided house identified as one Josephine Ong is now undergoing investigation.

The retired police general said that the syndicate is known for hiding drugs under false compartments of fishing vessels whose crew are under their payroll and using the Sulu Sea as their main route. From Zamboanga, he said that the drugs are then distributed in Cebu, parts of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and later in Luzon specifically in Metro Manila.

Officials have said that Chinese drug lords and manufacturers continue to defy the Duterte government’s all-out war on drugs as evidenced by the arrest of four more Chinamen inside the posh Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City where they were found repacking an estimated P1.1 billion worth of shabu by agents of the PDEA.

The arrest of the four came barely weeks after an estimated P1.9 billion worth of shabu were seized by PDEA operatives inside a secret drug facility in Tanza, Cavite where two Chinese nationals were killed in a gunfight with officers, said PDEA chair, Director General Aaron N. Aquino.

The PDEA chief said that their string of major drug seizures and arrests were enough proof that foreign drug lords and manufacturers, particularly Chinese drug lords,  continue to operate in the country despite the Duterte government’s massive crackdown against illegal drug trafficking and abuse which since July 2016 has already resulted in the killing of more than 5,000 armed suspects in gunbattles with authorities.

On Tuesday, the PDEA made their second biggest drug haul yet this year following separate anti-narcotics operations in Muntinlupa City which resulted in the seizure of an estimated P1.1 billion worth of shabu and the arrest of three Chinese nationals believed to be members of an international drug syndicate behind a series of big-time drug smuggling activities in the country.

Aquino said Tuesday, his men arrested Chinese nationals Kei-Kei Go,40, a resident of Quiapo, Manila; and Kian Kok Chua,43, of Ongpin, Binondo, Manila and 79-year old Emmanuel Pascual during a buy-bust operation at the parking lot of the Festibal Mall located along Madrigal Avenue corner Zapote Road in Muntinlupa City.

An hour-and-a-half later, the PDEA operatives conducted another buy-bust operation at no. 175 Apitong Street in the posh Ayala Alabang Village where they arrested a 3rd Chinese national identified as Wu Yi alias ‘Li Zhaoyang,’ a 19-year old resident of Sta. Cruz, Manila who yielded 82 plastic packets containing suspected shabu.

Aquino said that the two buy-bust operations led in the recovery of 166 kilograms of shabu worth P1.9 billion. Also recovered during the sting were  a green Honda Civic with plate no. WSB-955 and the P2.1 million worth of buy-bust money.