AGENTS of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency have joined hands in tracking down members of the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ syndicate which are believed to be behind the importation but foiled distribution of nearly P7 billion worth of shabu in the country this year alone, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
Last week, policemen conducting follow-up operation in connection with the seizure of nearly P2.7 billion worth of shabu in the southern part of Metro Manila last Tuesday recovered another 67 kilos of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ inside the apartment being rented by one of the arrested Filipino drug couriers in Las Piñas City Saturday.
According to PNP Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG) director, Colonel Romeo M. Caramat Jr., the drugs were found inside Unit B, Lot 27, Block 5, F. Manalo Street in Golden Acres Subdivision, Las Piñas City at 5 a.m. Saturday.
The discovery was made after the apartment owner called up PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Lieutenant General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan and informed him of the presence of suspected drugs left in the area by her tenant.
After receiving the information, Gen. Cascolan asked the PNP-DEG and the Las Piñas City Police Station to verify the information. Thru the help of the apartment owner, officers searched the apartment where there were 64 sealed plastic Chinese tea bags found to be containing some 67 kilos of shabu valued at P455,600,000.
An investigation showed that the apartment is being rented by one Melanie Salem, the alleged live-in partner of Joel Bustamante, who along with his brother Merwin were arrested during a buy-bust operation in a parking lot in C-5 Extension, Bgy. Manuyo in Las Piñas City by members of the PNP-DEG and the local police last Wednesday.
Recovered from the Bustamantes were 17 plastic packs of green tea bags containing about 17 kilos of shabu worth P115.6 million.
The PDEA headed by Director General Aaron N. Aquino tagged a ‘Golden Triangle’ syndicate which operates in the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand as the main source of drugs now being smuggled into the country, not China which has already launched a massive crackdown on secret drug laboratories in its mainland.
The retired police general said that shabu being sold in the country mainly comes from the Golden Triangle Syndicate while MDMA or the designed drug called ‘Ecstasy’ are usually smuggled from The Netherlands and other European countries.
On the other hand, cocaine comes from Colombia and Peru. At present, marijuana and its more expensive variety called ‘Kush’ are known to be grown in the mountains of Kalinga and other parts of Cordillera region.
Records also show that out of the 1,003 foreign drug personalities arrested in the country from 2001 to last October, 590 or 59 percent are Chinese nationals followed by Americans and Nigerians with 60 and 42 respectively.
There is a geographical shift to the Golden Triangle drug syndicate as the main source of shabu in Southeast Asia and other nearby regions since Chinese drug manufacturers apparently have felt the massive government pressure.
“Noong 2017 pababa, karamihan ng drugs nanggagaling sa China then nagkaroon ng geographical shift. By 2018, nagkaroon ng Golden Triangle drug syndicate sa border ng Laos, Myanmar at Thailand. Sila na ang biggest distributor ng drugs sa Southeast Asia, umaabot sa Australia, US, Europe,” the PDEA chief said.
This is evident, the retired police general said, in a series of major drug seizures made by Philippine authorities of shabu packed in Chinese tea bags which he explained is a trademark used by the Golden Triangle to make it appear the package came from China.
So far this year, PDEA agents have already confiscated some 450 kilos of illegal drugs worth P3 billion.
Aquino explained that drug syndicates in Mainland China were forced to outsource production of dangerous drugs because of strict laws against illegal drugs and a massive crackdown against secret shabu factories in China since the early 2000.
“Instead na sila ang mag-manufacture, nag-outsource na sila sa Golden Triangle region, at sila ngayon ang mag-smuggle sa ibang bansa, kunwari sa Pilipinas. Kaya kita mo, out of more than 1,000 arrested foreign nationals, 592 ay Chinese nationals,” the PDEA chief said.
(To be concluded)