THREE transnational drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have been operating in the Philippines, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said Tuesday.
Aside from the United Bamboo Gang Triad (Bamboo Triad), and the 14K Triad or Hong Kong Triad, which President Rodrigo Duterte earlier disclosed, the other drug syndicate is Sun Yee On Triad, said PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino in a statement.
He described the three DTOs as the most powerful involved in the global illegal drug market.
The PDEA chief said the Chinese triads found the Philippines as a possible market and transshipment point for shabu because of the country's vulnerability, particularly its porous borders and vast coastlines, a factor in the undetected movement of illegal drugs through shipment.
"These three drug triads are making the Philippines their playground. They are resorting to drug smuggling, either finished product or raw materials, and cook shabu in high seas because of the dismantling of several major shabu laboratories offshore lately," he said.
He said these DTOs can ship up to three tons of shabu into the country either through shipside smuggling in the high seas, or airports and seaports.
"In shipside smuggling, these DTOs cook their shabu in the high seas, dumped their contrabands overboard and retrieve them afterward through nets as evidenced by the discovery of a floating shabu laboratory off the coast of Zambales on July 12, 2016. To recall, two tons of cocaine bricks were reportedly thrown overboard into the waters of Eastern Samar by a Chinese vessel in 2009," Aquino said.
He said the United Bamboo Triad, based in Taiwan, was formed during the 1950s, with members engaged "in almost every illegal activity imaginable, from prostitution, gambling, extortion to gunrunning, human trafficking and illegal drug smuggling on a worldwide scale."
The triad members are actively operating in United States of America, Canada, Britain, France and Australia, as well as virtually every country in Asia, including the Philippines.
Aquino said the 14K Triad was founded in Guangzhou, China, in 1945 as an anti-communist task force. Four years later, it relocated to Hong Kong following the nationalist defeat.
Today it exerts considerable influence over West Kowloon, Yuen Long and Kwun Tong. It is engaged in large-scale drug-trafficking around the world, the PDEA chief said.
Sun Yee On Triad started in Hong Kong in 1919, he said.
"Presently, it is based in mainland China and Macau and has more than 55,000 members worldwide. Sun Yee On Triad is said to be the most organized and wealthiest triad society," he said.
The 14K and Sun Yee On Triads are arch-rivals with a propensity for violence. Both are supplying Mexico’s Sinaloa Drug Cartel--a dangerously powerful international drug trafficking organization based in Mexico City--with raw materials needed to manufacture shabu, as demand skyrockets. Ties between these triads and Sinaloa cartel were outlined in a report by the Mexican Attorney General's Office in 2013.
Details of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel connection in the country was discovered in the wake of the confiscation of some P420 million worth of shabu during a joint PDEA-PNP Christmas Day raid in 2013 at a game fowl ranch in Lipa City, Batangas, Aquino noted.
The ranch is leased by Mexican nationals who are alleged members of the drug cartel.
Horacio Herrera Hernandez, a high-ranking member of Sinaloa Drug Cartel, was arrested during a buy-bust operation in front of a restaurant along Makati Avenue, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City on January 11, 2015.
To curb drug smuggling through the ports, Aquino said PDEA will establish seaport interdiction units in its regional offices and enhance cooperation with the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard to seal off our waters from illegal drugs.
He said the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA-IADITG) led by PDEA is also strengthening its efforts to intercept the trafficking and transit of illegal drugs in the country’s major airports. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)