Nearly P130M worth of cocaine seized in Davao

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Sunday, March 23, 2014


DAVAO CITY -- A total of 24 bricks of high-grade cocaine weighing 25.968 kilograms were recovered on Saturday inside a Maersk Sealand container van at Sumifru Wharf in this city.

The drugs are worth around P5 million per kilogram, authorities said.

Operatives of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) and Davao Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) found the contraband in square packages of around 1.082 kilogram each and hidden in the double wall of a reefer machine of a 40–footer container van.

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Bunawan Police Station head Simplicio Sagarino Jr. said the operation was conducted around 7 p.m., following the information from Sherwin Gabrinez, a security manager of the Sumifru who told police that several boxes were found inside the Maersk container van with body number MWCU-6051422.

The ceiling of the van collapsed to show the hidden drugs. The authorities confirmed that the items are high–grade cocaine, after the PDEA operatives conducted their field examination on one of the 24 bricks.

Some workers, who refused to be named for lack of authority to speak, said the van was stocked at the repair area beside the Sumifru wharf since January. The container van was transferred to Sumifru last March 19 to be loaded with bananas and to be shipped to South Korea.

Container van seized in Davao City reveals cocaine bricks
DAVAO. Workers break open the double wall of a container van after its ceiling collapsed to reveal 24 bricks of suspected cocaine Saturday night at the Sumifru Wharf in Tibungco, Davao City. (King Rodriguez)


Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte arrived in the area around 9:30 p.m. and directed the authorities to hold the employees of the Sumifru for interrogation, as it is suspected that there can be as many as 65 bricks hidden in that van but only 24 were found.

“The bricks hidden in the ceiling of the van had divisions like in an ice tray, and there were 65 divisions. But the PDEA and police only recovered 24, so there are 41 bricks missing. We suspect that the 41 have already been taken out and that’s why we asked the workers to stay on until investigation is done,” Duterte said in his Sunday program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa.”

He urged anyone who got one to just return it, and no question will be asked. He said he has no reason to believe that any one is directly involved since this is an action of an international syndicate.

DCPO Director Vicente D. Danao, in a separate interview, also echoed the same call for the staff of the Sumifru to turn over the 41 missing bricks to the authorities, if any of them happened to have possession of it.

“I will talk to the mayor, after that I will give them (the Sumifru staff) 24 hours to return the bricks. Hindi na man pwede na nawala na lang ng parang bula ang 41. It will be a big problem if those substances will reach the mainstream,” Danao said.

Cocaine bricks seized in Davao City wharf
DAVAO. This photo shows the bricks of cocaine seized at the Sumifru Wharf in Tibungco, Davao City. (King Rodriguez)


Danao said the search for more drugs is still ongoing and cargo vans going out of the container wharf are being subjected to police search before they are allowed to leave the premises. There are around 1,000 container vans at the Sumifru Wharf.

Duterte said he believes more container vans are being used to ship illegal drugs, but this will be difficult to trace since container vans arrive by the thousands. He added that the seized packages are not from the city and are not intended for Davao.

Duterte said the sheer volume of the cocaine alarms him and that the substance must immediately be burned.

“The Philippines remains to be a transshipment entity maybe towards other countries. Again, if you (Sumifru workers) happened to pick up one because you’re curious, please return it. Eventually, sunugon jud na. Pag naa mugawas sa inyo sa pantalan nga dala na, I have a very specific order to the authorities here (These will be burned and I have specific instructions to authorities on the possibility of the illegal drugs leaving the wharf),” Duterte said.

When asked if the shipment is owned by any powerful person in Mindanao, Danao said he cannot yet say anything at the moment because the investigation is still ongoing. He admitted that the authorities in Davao are still clueless.

“Gusto ko din malaman yan. Who’s behind it? Bakit nakalusot yan dito sa Davao City? I think you should ask the Bureau of Customs. Kasi wala naman kaming hawak sa container vans, if only we’re allowed to check the shipments, sana ginawa na namin,” Danao said.

In 2009, the authorities recovered at least 16 kilograms of cocaine from several container vans inside the Sasa Wharf in Davao City. The cocaine was discovered by a technician of the Maersk Shipping Company while working on a container van.

In 2010, illegal drug charges have been filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office against Maersk Filipinas Inc. officers and staff for trying to conceal some bricks of cocaine found in reefer vans inside their compound. The officers and staff were charged with Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Trafficking of illegal drugs via container vans is a global concern as international crime investigation authorities are one in saying that drug trafficking using maritime routes comprise the bulk of the international illegal trade, according to the 2013 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on maritime trafficking of illegal drugs worldwide. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 24, 2014.

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