Suspected cocaine haul: 74 bricks found near Surigao del Sur, Nueva Ecija, Davao Oriental shores

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 24) — Authorities reported what could so far be the biggest single-day haul of suspected cocaine bricks found floating at sea or washed ashore, this time in Surigao del Sur, Nueva Ecija and Davao Oriental.

Caraga Regional Police reported that 34 bricks of what appears to be cocaine were submitted to the Surigao del Sur police headquarters Sunday morning.

The bricks weighed a total of 43.62 kilograms, and if confirmed to be cocaine, can be worth around ₱231 million. Two fishermen found the bricks along the sea waters of Purok Santan, Barangay Bungtod, Tandag City, Surigao Del Sur, and turned them over to authorities.

The fishermen received sacks of rice and ₱5,000 each as their reward. The police said they have yet to confirm if the substance is cocaine. However, the bricks had a "dollar sign" similar to the marking on the package of cocaine recovered from Dinagat Island on February 12. Meanwhile, on the same day at 1 p.m., Nueva Ecija police said a fisherman from Gabaldon town turned over a brick of the suspected drug to authorities.

The brick was wrapped in plastic and tied in rubber. It was found on the shore of Dingalan, Aurora.

At 1:30 p.m., officers of the Caraga Municipal Police Station also responded to reports of blocks of suspected cocaine on the shore of Purok Talisay, Barangay Santiago in Davao Oriental. Authorities were able to recover 36 blocks of the substance. All blocks are undergoing laboratory examination for proper disposition, police said.

On February 25, three more bricks of the illegal substance were discovered in the area, making the total number of cocaine packages 39. Police report said the cocaine bricks were discovered during a follow-up joint seaborne and shoreline patrol conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and barangay officials. The bricks were brought to local police for validation and proper custody.

The incidents are the latest in a series recoveries of cocaine packages in various coastal villages in the country. Excluding the 71 bricks found on Sunday, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said as of February 19 more than 92 kilograms of the drug have been recovered for the month of February, with a total value of ₱491.25 million.

A brick of cocaine was found at a Quezon shoreline on February 18 while a bag of the substance worth P5,242,919 was recovered in Camarines Norte two days prior. More than 70 blocks of cocaine were also found on the shores of Siargao and Dinagat islands two weeks ago.

Philippine National Police Chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde earlier maintained there is no market for cocaine in the country and that drug syndicates may be using the Philippines as a transshipment point.