P160.5-M drugs in tomato paste cans, luggage seized in Clark

MANILA — Authorities seized a total of PHP160.5 million worth of shabu, ecstasy and kush, a strain of cannabis, concealed in food items and a luggage at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said on Thursday.

In a press conference, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said from Dec. 28, 2018 to Jan. 14, 2019, personnel from Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted these packages from Las Vegas in the United States.

After noticing that one of the tomato paste cans in the package started to leak, authorities discovered two kilograms of shabu and 200 pieces of ecstasy tablets hidden in it.

On Jan. 10, authorities seized another four kilograms of shabu concealed in another package of tomato paste cans and 3.1 kilograms of kush wrapped in clothes in a black luggage.

The latest one was on Jan. 13 when they examined a similar tomato paste can that landed in Clark Airport where they discovered 12 kilograms of shabu.

The confiscated drugs in the said airport were declared as biscuits and canned goods and were turned over by Port of Clark Acting District Collector lawyer Lilibeth Sandag to the PDEA on Tuesday.

According to Aquino, the PDEA found out these drugs will be distributed to consignees from Novaliches, Quezon City; San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; and Navotas.

Authorities arrested two female suspects, Edna Valenzuela, 44 and her daughter Judy Ann, 22, in a controlled delivery operation in their residence in Navotas City on Wednesday night.

The two suspects denied involvement in drug trafficking.

“It’s obvious that they were lying. Hindi raw nila alam kung ano ang nasa loob. Hindi raw nila alam kung sino ang magpapadala. Hindi raw nila alam kung saan galing. Sinong taong matino ang ire-receive ang isang package na di niya alam lahat? (They said they do not know what is inside. They do not know who sent it and where it came from. Is there a sane person who will receive a package without knowing its details?” he told reporters.

Aquino added that they discovered the two were transacting drugs through Facebook.

They were unable to arrest the other consignees in the other endpoints because they sensed the anti-narcotics agent around them, Aquino said.

The PDEA chief added that a Mexican drug cartel could be possibly the source of the contraband.

“We are closely coordinating with our US counterparts to determine exactly the drug syndicates involved here. But initially when we coordinated with the USDEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency), they told us that it came from Mexican drug cartel and with other groups,” he said.

Aquino said this Mexican drug cartel is also the same one that delivered PHP120-million worth of shabu seized in Clark Freeport Zone on June 2018.

Aquino earlier urged the USDEA to be stricter in examining packages as syndicates are now seeking other ways to conceal illegal drugs.

Punta ka lang sa 7-Eleven store sa US para ipa-deliver. Walang X-ray X-ray yan. ‘Yung receiving country na lang makakaalam kung maydrugs na ipapadala (Just go to a 7-Eleven store in the US and you can have anything delivered. There are no X-ray procedures. Only the receiving country will then know if there are drugs in the package to be sent),” he said. With reports from Ferdinand Patinio/PNA –

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