Cocaine dumped at sea could be ‘diversionary tactic’

February 18, 2019
Aaron N. Aquino

AMID suspicion that the recent dumping at sea of vacuum-packed cocaine could be part of a “diversionary tactic” by drug smugglers planning to bring much bigger volume of shabu into the country, both the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police yesterday called on the public to immediately report suspected major illegal drug activities.

PDEA Chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino suggested that foreign drug trafficking syndicates could be deliberately dropping their cocaine in Philippine waters so that authorities would focus their effort on recovering more of the drugs and in the process, giving them the opportunity to continue with their smuggling operations in other areas.

“Once na magkaroon ng incident ng floating cocaine, lahat ng law enforcement naka-focus doon, lahat eh for retrieval and search. Parang isinasakripisyo, decoy na lang nilang ginagawa iyung floating cocaine, and eto nagkakaroon nga ng gap o vacuum iyung security ng ating karagatan. Doon ipinapasok ngayon mas malaking volume ng shabu,” Aquino told a radio interview in the aftermath of the discovery of nearly P500 million worth of cocaine in Siargao Island, Dinagat Island and Camarines Norte last week.

The retired police general raised the theory that foreign drug rings could be using the Philippines as a transshipment point for cocaine, repacking the drugs in their storage facilities in the country before smuggling them to Asian countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

He also said that powerful drug smugglers nowadays have been using GPS trackers so that they will know where their drugs will go and stay away from that route since authorities are expected to focus their attention on those locations.

According to Aquino, government agents have seized 13 floating cocaine packages since last year and they are analyzing the drugs recovered in order to find out if they came from the same sources. He likewise maintained that cocaine has no big market in the country. Aquino placed the number of addicts using cocaine in the country at around 2-3 percent of the total.

PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Bernard M. Banac agreed with the PDEA chief.  ”Yes, it may also possibly be a diversionary tactic. That’s why we call on our people to remain vigilant, report any suspicious sightings of items or persons, and never allow the proliferation of illegal drugs in our communities,” the official said.

Another brick-like item which turned out to be nearly a kilo of cocaine worth P5.2 million was found floating anew in the shorelines of Paracale, Camarines Norte by a local villager early Saturday evening, Police Regional Office 5 director, Chief Superintendent Arnel B. Escobal said.