PDEA nabs 2 suspects in Malabon ecstacy lab raid

MANILA — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Friday dismantled a clandestine laboratory used in manufacturing ecstasy, and arrested two suspected drug personalities, including one Chinese national in Malabon City.

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino identified the suspects as Jiang Minshan, 53, a native of Fujian, China; and his Filipino driver-cohort Lauro Santiago, alias Larry Santos, 59.

Aquino said that on Friday morning, joint elements of PDEA Regional Office-National Capital Region (RO-NCR) under Ismael Fajardo, Jr., PDEA Special Enforcement Service (SES) under Levi Ortiz, and PDEA Regional Office IVA (RO-IVA) under Adrian Alvariño, with the support of the Philippine Army Intelligence and local police, raided a three-storey residence along Dela Cruz Street, Barangay Tinajeros, Malabon City.

“This is the first time in the country’s drug law enforcement history that a clandestine ecstasy laboratory was closed down,” said Aquino.

Seized were large amounts of controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) used in the production of ecstasy, including safrole which is used as a precursor in the synthesis of the illegal drug; amphetamine-type stimulants; and various laboratory equipment and apparatus.

“The operation is linked to the recently dismantled clandestine shabu laboratory inside Hingoso Farm, Barangay Sto. Niño, Ibaan, Batangas,” he said.

Minshan, together with the four arrested Chinese chemists in Batangas, and Tagaytay, are members of the Dragon Wu International Drug Syndicate operating in Asia.

PDEA said they are linked to the infamous “Golden Triangle,” notoriously known as the world’s foremost drug-producing region operating near the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

Aquino said there is a big possibility that the illegal facility in Malabon is also used as a testing site to experiment on new kinds of amphetamine-type stimulants.

“Because some of the CPECs confiscated are not ingredients for ecstasy production,” he said.

The discovery of the two illegal facilities in Batangas and Malabon were the result of the intelligence support provided by the Office of the National Narcotics Control Commission (ONNCC), Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Republic of China to PDEA.

“A tip-off from ONNCC was first relayed to PDEA International Cooperation and Foreign Affairs Service (ICFAS) that Chinese chemists are flying in and out of the country. The arrested suspects were under surveillance for seven months prior to the operations,” Aquino noted.

According to Chinese intelligence reports, the shabu and ecstasy-producing laboratories were established by a Hongkong-based drug kingpin/financier.

Dragon Wu International Syndicate, in connection with the “Golden Triangle”, has found Asia, particularly the Philippines, as a possible market and transshipment point for synthetic drugs such as shabu and ecstasy due to the country’s geographical location, demarcated by porous borders and vast coastlines, a factor in the undetected movement of illegal drugs through shipment, according to the PDEA chief.

“Before, ecstasy in capsule/tablet and liquid forms are usually smuggled inbound. Now with the influx of Chinese chemists into the country, liquid ecstasy is being cooked locally. It is a good thing that we have discovered the laboratory earlier before they start operating full blast,” Aquino said.

“Besides the Chinese, African Drug Syndicates (ADS) and Mexican-Sinaloa Drug Cartel, we now have “The Golden Triangle” to contend with. Fortunately, PDEA has crossed paths with the latter before they can establish their illicit drug trade in the country,” the PDEA chief said. PNA-northboundasia.com