AUTHORITIES arrested on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, an arriving American national for possession of nearly P20 million worth of cocaine placed inside his suitcase.

Operatives of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (IADTG) held Stephen Joseph Szuhar, 75, upon his arrival at the airport via a connecting flight in Doha, Qatar from Brazil.

NAIA IADTG deputy commander Gerald Javier said prior to Szuhar’s arrival, they received information from their international counterparts that an individual will arrive in the country with an undetermined amount of illegal drugs.

Found in the foreigner’s luggage, underneath clothes, were three kilograms of substance believed to be cocaine with an estimated street value of P19.6 million.

Szuhar said he was not aware that there were illegal drugs in the suitcase, saying that someone from a bank in Brazil asked him for a favor to bring it to the Philippines.

“The bank from Brazil told me they are going to send some clothes as a gift to the bank here in Manila,” he said in an interview with reporters.

He said he was a former president of a casino in the United States and there is no need for him to sell illegal drugs as he is rich.

"I don't need to sell cocaine. I have $600 million of my own in my life and about 400 million. We don't need money to sell cocaine, believe me," said Szuhar.

“Yes, I am (rich). So you think I'm going to waste my time getting cocaine to somebody? That is stupid,” he added.

Authorities are investigating if the suspect is a member of a drug syndicate. (SunStar Philippines)