Philippines key hub in vast narcotics network
Western and East Asian syndicates could be working to establish a vast network to supply America and Asia with illegal drugs, with the Philippines as a key hub.
The joint narcotics venture may have been on its start-up stage when a cache of 85 kilos of shabu was discovered during a raid at a gamefowl breeding ranch in Lipa City on Christmas Day, according to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Arturo Cacdac Jr.
“It is a good thing that we have discovered the emergence of the Mexican drug syndicate before they can harness and establish their illicit drug trade in the country.
Besides the Chinese and African drug syndicates, we now have the (Mexican) drug cartel to contend with,” Cacdac said.
“If these three international drug organizations coexist in the Philippines, then it is a cause for serious alarm,” he said.
The PDEA said the Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa had smuggled in the shabu worth P420 million with the help of a local drug syndicate.
A Filipino-Chinese, Gary Tan, and Filipinos Argay Argenos and his wife Rochelle were arrested during the raid.
The farm is being leased by Jorge Gomez-Torres, a certain alias Jaime and one alias Joey, all Mexican nationals and members of the Sinaloa drug syndicate, Cacdac said.
The Sinaloa, which is based in the city of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, is a powerful international drug ring responsible for smuggling and distributing huge quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana into the US.
The group is headed by Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo” or “Shorty,” who escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001 by hiding inside a laundry box.
American authorities consider Leora as the world’s most powerful drug trafficker.
Cacdac said the cartel is eyeing the Philippines as a possible market and transshipment point for shabu because of its geographical location, porous borders and long coastline, a factor in the undetected movement of illegal drugs through shipment.
The Sinaloa chose shabu to market in the Philippines because it is more popular and thus more profitable than heroin or cocaine, authorities said.
Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison said Friday the bureau is working with the International Police (Interpol) in watching out for Sinaloa members who may be in the country.
Mison said the Interpol provides the bureau with information on foreign nationals with criminal records in their home countries.
Immigration spokesperson Maria Angelica Pedro said they have not verified the names of the persons linked to the Mexican cartel.
“We don’t want to preempt the investigation of PDEA,” Pedro said.
The Sinaloa gained a foothold in the Philippines because the police lack the manpower and intelligence services, a former police chief turned lawmaker said Friday.
“Syndicates always conceal their nefarious activities. The problem is not having enough capable men to secure a large area and a big number of population,” Rep. Romeo Acop of Antipolo City, who was the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief during the Ramos administration, noted in a text message.
Acop said the PNP “should modernize intelligence systems . . . prioritize the procurement of needed equipment to improve on information gathering techniques, have training courses on intelligence work, interlocking and coordination between intelligence gathering and investigation.”
House Deputy Majority Leader Romero Quimbo said it is important that the authorities were able to detect the presence of the Sinaloa early. “The fact that they [PDEA] caught them [Sinaloa syndicate members] makes them laudable,” Quimbo said in a text message.
With reports from Robertzon F. Ramirez and Llanesca T. Panti