THE notorious Colombian drug cartel has already penetrated the Philippine market and is believed to be behind the smuggling of a huge volume of cocaine at the country’s largely unguarded coastlines and seawaters, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chair, Director General Aaron N. Aquino said yesterday.
According to the PDEA chief, President Duterte was right when he said that Colombian drug syndicates are already making their presence felt in the country.
In a speech Monday evening before barangay leaders in Pasay City, Duterte said the recovery of cocaine bricks in the country’s waters point to the entry of the Medellin group of Colombia in the Philippines.
“We are facing a serious problem. Pumasok na ang cartel Medellin [ng] Colombia kaya nga maraming nakikitang cocaine,” Duterte said.
Duterte said illegal drugs were being produced in old trawlers, then packed and attached with GPS devices before being thrown into the sea.
Aquino said that samples taken from cocaine bricks recovered in Matnog, Sorsogon in 2018 proved they were manufactured from Colombia. He said they are already coordinating with their Colombian counterparts regarding the matter.
However, he said that there is also the strong possibility that foreign drug syndicates are using the Philippines as a transshipment point for cocaine or setting afloat the cocaine bricks as a diversionary tactic so that a bigger amount of illegal drugs may be shipped to the country.
There is also the possibility that crewmen of “mother ships” carrying tons of drugs are forced to dump their cargoes in the high seas after sensing they are being tailed by foreign narcotics agents including the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
Aquino batted for a much stronger PDEA and a Philippine Navy and Coast Guard to help go after smuggling of drugs in the high seas.
Police are currently looking for more “floating cocaine” in the country banking on the support of coastal area residents and villagers who have been offered a sack of rice for each pack of drug they will find and report to authorities for immediate retrieval.
“We are once again lauding the strong cooperation and vigilance of the public which continue to produce positive results following the recovery of more suspected cocaine in various parts of the eastern seaboard of the country,” said Philippine National Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Bernard M. Banac.
Since last January, police have accounted for some P2 billion worth of vacuum-packed cocaine which floated in the shorelines or seawaters of Luzon and Mindanao.
Last Sunday, acting on information provided by concerned fishermen, police recovered three more blocks of “floating cocaine” weighing nearly 40 kilograms and valued at over P252 million in separate areas in Nueva Ecija, Aurora and Davao Oriental.