Why ‘floating cocaine’ not really for use of Pinoys

Oscar D. Albayalde

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde has maintained that the nearly P706 million worth of floating ‘cocaine bricks’ found in the country’s eastern seaboards could have really been intended for shipment to Australia and not really destined for the Philippines as the country is in the bottom list of cocaine-consuming countries across the globe.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2016 listed the Philippines as 14th out of the 112 countries with known cocaine consumption, the Journal Group learned.

The UNODC listed the Top 10 countries with highest cocaine use as the following: Albania, Scotland, United States, England and Wales, Spain, Australia, Uruguay, Chile, Netherlands and Ireland.

Citing information provided to him by his Australian counterparts, the PNP chief said the cocaine bricks which washed  ashore in the country’s eastern seaboard appears to have come somewhere from the Pacific Ocean and not for delivery here. The cocaine bricks were found in Dingalan, Aurora, Barangay Villamanzano Norte in Perez, Quezon; Bgy. Bagumbayan in Paracale, Camarines Norte; Vinzons, Camarines Norte; Cagdianao, Diganat Island; San Isidro, Surigao del Norte; Tandag City in Surigao del Sur; and Bgy. Santiago in Caraga, Davao Oriental.

Gen. Albayalde said the Australian Federal Police (AFP)  in particular are looking into the possibility that the cocaine bricks recovered here could be similar to those found in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea last year.

“We will give some samples to the AFP for examination. They have the capability to ascertain the source of the drugs thru DNA testing. I was informed that the DNA test will show where it came from,” he said.

The PNP chief said this Australian counterparts told him that the cocaine bricks could have either come from a ‘mother ship’ that sank probably due to bad weather or deliberately dumped by the smugglers along the Pacific Ocean for future retrieval operations.

He said that around 500 kilograms of cocaine were also retrieved by authorities in Solomon Islands last September.

“The possibility remains that they are for delivery to Australia, probably coming from Peru or Colombia and will be shipped to Solomon Islands or Papua New Guinea prior to their smuggling to Australia,” the PNP chief said.

Reports showed in June 2018, two men were arrested by the Queensland Joint Organized Crime Task Force in Queenslands and New South Wales, Australia following their involvement in an alleged conspiracy to import 300 kilograms of cocaine into Australia from Peru via Singapore and Papua New Guinea. One woman was also arrested and charged for allegedly conspiring with the two men.

Police researches said that based on the UNODC 2016 World Report and the recent arrests in Australia, there is a possibility that the ‘floating cocaine bricks’ could have been part of failed drug deliveries in the southern Pacific last September. Officials said international drug cartels are rampantly using the Pacific Ocean as a smuggling route.

This was also bolstered by reports that in September 2018, a boat full of cocaine went missing somewhere in the shores of Papua New Guinea particularly in Siassi Ialnds which is an uninhabited volcanic islet in the Vitiaz Strait.

The incident took place shortly after the Papuan New Guinea Navy chased the crewmen of a modified trawler believed to be carrying a huge volume of cocaine. This resulted in the arrest of six Hong Kong nationals and one man from Montenegro. However, the suspected drug smugglers were believed to have dumped their contraband in the high seas prior to their arrest following a 400-kilometer chase.

Police are currently on prowl 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.