BOC, PDEA seize ₱3.4-B shabu shipment in Manila port

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — Following a tip from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted a shipment of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu in the Manila International Container Port (MICP) Tuesday.

In the joint operation, authorities found around 500 kilograms of the said illegal drugs, which was estimated at ₱3.4 billion, hidden in two magnetic scrap lifters.

Officials, in a news release, confirmed the shipment arrived on June 28. Initial reports showed the shipment, which was said to contain door frames, belonged to a certain Vecaba Trading. However, the company is not accredited by the BOC.

The MICP port operator sent a notice of abandonment, as it was left unclaimed after 30 days.

Upon inspection of the abandoned cargo, the scrap lifters, which are commonly used as scrap yard equipment, revealed illegal substance tested positive for shabu.

Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said the consignee, a certain Vedasto Cabral Baraquel, may have intended to smuggle without the clearing process of the customs bureau.

"They did not see any chance to smuggle this because of the intensified anti-smuggling operations and the constant alerting of the bureau," Lapeña said.

"It will be very risky on their part if they will push through with the shipment."

The operation is also considered as one of the biggest drug hauls in Philippine history, and the biggest since Lapeña took over as customs chief.

"The fact that we prevented the shipment to go to the market is an indication that some BOC employees do not want to cooperate with them. I would like to warn them if they still have dealings with drug syndicates because we will eventually catch up with them," he added.

The drugs were turned over to PDEA for further investigation.