AUTHORITIES now have an idea of the local contacts of Liming Zhou, the Chinese woman arrested Wednesday at the Mactan airport for bringing a suitcase filled with more than four kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as "shabu."
Zhou, through an interpreter, told police investigators that a Canadian friend of her cousin in China, instructed her to bring the suitcase to Cebu.
Police Supt. Enrico Rigor, legal and investigation division chief of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG), said that entries in Zhou’s passport indicate that she frequented Cebu this year.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) 7 Director Julius Jamorabon said their records showed that Zhou arrived in Cebu four times this year—on March 30, May 8, June 15 and July 20.
All trips before July 20 lasted for two to three days each time.
“It’s the same modus, according to her. Someone asked her to bring the suitcase to Cebu. It’s the same person, the Canadian national,” Rigor said.
Rigor, in a radio dyAB report last night, confirmed that they have the names of the possible contacts of Zhou.
Senior Supt. Mao Aplasca, director of the Police Aviation Security Group, said the AIDG, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and other police units are working together to identify the contacts of Zhou.
Aplasca was at the airport yesterday for a scheduled inspection on the airport.
Yesterday, the Chinese Embassy in Manila released a statement expressing their cooperation in fighting illegal drug activities.
Without any reference to Zhou’s case, Chinese Embassy spokesman Li Lingxiao said the fight against all drug-related crimes “is a shared responsibility of all nations in the world.”
“The Chinese Government has been firm and severe on drug control and in punishing all drug criminals in accordance with laws regardless of their nationalities,” Lingxiao said.
Lingxiao said the Chinese Government has been promoting and has carried out effective international cooperation with many countries.
“China fully understands that the Philippine Government, under the leadership of H.E. President Rodrigo Duterte, has taken it as a top priority in cracking down drug-related crimes,” Lingxiao said.
“China has expressed explicitly to the new administration China’s willingness for effective cooperation in this regard, and would like to work on a specific plan of action with Philippine side,” Lingxiao said.
Zhou was charged yesterday afternoon with three violations of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, a day after her arrest.
The Aviation Security Unit (Avseu) 7 charged Zhou with violations of Sections 4, 5 and 11 of RA 9165.
Avseu officials arrived at the Lapu-Lapu City Hall of Justice past 3 p.m. Zhou was brought in at 4:40 p.m.
The inquest proceedings conducted by City Associate Prosecution II Angelo Barrios lasted about two hours. It ended at 6:45 p.m.
Rigor of the AIDG said the prosecutor will issue the resolution of the case at 1 p.m. today.
Rigor said the resolution has to be released immediately so they can deliver the detained person to the proper authorities as stated in Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code.
Zhou is detained at the Avseu office pending the issuance of the commitment order, Rigor said.
Avseu chief Senior Supt. Richie Posadas said they have requested the Chinese consul general in Cebu to provide Zhou a Chinese interpreter so she can fully understand the charges against her.
Posadas said that while Zhou is in their custody, they turned over the 11 packs of shabu weighing four kilos to PDEA for a confirmatory test.
Zhou arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport last Wednesday morning on board Cathay Pacific Flight CX921 from Hong Kong. She was scheduled to fly back to China tomorrow, July 23.
When her suitcase passed through the scanning machine, Bureau of Customs personnel noticed a bulge on its side.
Customs and Avseu 7 opened the luggage and found a piece of plywood, which concealed 11 large packs of illegal drugs. The packs were held in place by a packaging tape.
Also yesterday, a team from the PNP Crime Laboratory 7 went to the Avseu 7 office to get Zhou’s urine samples for a drug test.
At the Police Regional Office 7, Regional Director Supt. Noli Taliño instructed intelligence operatives to investigate if Liming Zhou has connections with local drug traders.
They will try to get information on the identities of her contacts and the persons who instructed her to come to Cebu.
Taliño said they will try to identify the persons who met her at the airport and the places where she stayed. Zhou reportedly only stayed in Cebu for two to three days during her previous visits. The foreigner may have brought in contraband in the past, he said.
The official said the Chinese may have been employed by a big group operating in mainland China.
She is a member of or was used by a syndicate because she was that confident to bring in shabu, and the quantity she brought in “is not a joke,” Taliño said.
He also tapped the Regional Investigation and Detection Management Division 7 to help in the inquiry. PRO 7 will also coordinate with the Bureau of Customs and the Avseu 7.
Taliño said that Cebu is a transshipment point and trading ground of illegal drugs. It is accessible because it has an airport and public and private seaports.
He warned foreigners not to smuggle in illegal drugs and contraband in Cebu because authorities are keeping an eye on them.