MANILA — Three transnational drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) are the biggest sources of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) official said on Tuesday.
In a statement, PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino identified these as the United Bamboo Gang (Bamboo Triad), 14K Triad or Hongkong Triad, and Sun Yee On Triad, three of the most powerful DTOs involved in the global illegal drug market.
These triads, which have their roots in dialect groups, trade guilds or political movements, are now responsible for much of the world’s drug trafficking and vice establishments.
“The Bamboo triad, which is based in Taiwan, was formed during the 1950s. Their members are engaged in almost every illegal activity imaginable, from prostitution, gambling, extortion to gunrunning, human trafficking and illegal drug smuggling on a worldwide scale,” Aquino said.
The triad members are actively operating in the US, Canada, UK, France and Australia, as well as virtually in every country in Asia, including the Philippines.
The 14K Triad was founded in Guangzhou, China in 1945 as an anti-communist task force. Four years later, it relocated to Hong Kong following the defeat of nationalist forces. At present, it exerts considerable influence over West Kowloon, Yuen Long and Kwun Tong and is engaged in large-scale drug-trafficking around the world.
Sun Yee On Triad started in Hongkong in 1919. Presently, it is based in mainland China and Macau and has more than 55,000 members worldwide and is said to be the most organized and wealthiest triad society.
The 14K and Sun Yee On Triads are arch-rivals with a propensity for violence. Both are supplying Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, a dangerous and powerful international drug trafficking organization based in Mexico City, with raw materials needed to manufacture shabu, as demand skyrockets.
Ties between these triads and Sinaloa cartel were outlined in a report by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office in 2013.
Details of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel connection in the country was discovered in the wake of the confiscation of some PHP420 million worth of shabu during a joint PDEA-PNP Christmas Day raid in 2013 at a game fowl ranch in Lipa City, Batangas.
The ranch is leased by Mexican nationals who are alleged members of the drug cartel.
Horacio Herrera Hernandez, a high-ranking member of Sinaloa Drug Cartel, was arrested during a buy-bust operation in front of a restaurant along Makati Avenue, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City on January 11, 2015.
On January 6 and 13, 2012, three clandestine shabu laboratories were dismantled in Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa City. Seized during the operation were unfinished shabu and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) used in producing shabu worth PHP53 million.
“Intelligence reports indicated the participation of 14K Triad in the dismantled shabu laboratories based on various financial documents such as money transfer receipts, bank accounts, deposit slips to various banks and telegraph transfer receipts to Mexico that were recovered in the operation,” Aquino noted.
According to the PDEA chief, these DTOs can ship up to three tons of shabu into the country either through shipside smuggling in the high seas, or airports and seaports.
“In shipside smuggling, these DTOs cook their shabu in the high seas, dumped their contrabands overboard and retrieve them afterwards through nets as evidenced by the discovery of a floating shabu laboratory off the coast of Zambales on July 12, 2016.
To recall, two tons of cocaine bricks were reportedly thrown overboard into the waters of Eastern Samar by a Chinese vessel in 2009,” Aquino said.
“They also deliver illegal drugs in nearby coastal areas and bury them to be recovered by their local contacts,” he said, referring to the 180 kilos of shabu worth P900 million that were unearthed in Barangay Culao, Claveria, Cagayan on July 3, 2016.
The Chinese triads found the Philippines as a possible market and transshipment point for shabu because of the country’s vulnerability, particularly its porous borders and vast coastlines, a factor in the undetected movement of illegal drugs through shipment.
Aquino said that PDEA and other law enforcement agencies are gaining ground on the members of DTOs with the recent arrests of Chinese nationals during anti-drug operations.
Members of the DTOs have also abandoned chemicals used in the shabu production along the stretches of Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) to avoid detection.
“These three drug triads are making the Philippines their playground. They are resorting to drug smuggling, either finished product or raw materials, and cook shabu in high seas because of the dismantling of several major shabu laboratories offshore lately.” the PDEA chief said.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA-IADITG) led by PDEA is strengthening its efforts to intercept the trafficking and transit of illegal drugs in the country’s major airports.
To curb drug smuggling through the ports, PDEA will establish seaport interdiction units in its regional offices and enhance cooperation with the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard to seal off our waters from illegal drugs. PNA-northboundasia.com