PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino on Thursday met with officials of Philippine-based foreign express delivery and domestic courier services to bolster their partnership in intercepting illegal drugs being smuggled through the mail and parcel system.
Aquino arranged the meeting in light of the recent seizures of huge volumes of shabu, cocaine and the party drug called ‘Ecstasy’ found concealed inside packages entering the country.
“The presence of officials of international and domestic delivery express providers shows their willingness to help address the rising incidences involving mail and parcel service as mode of trafficking dangerous drugs,” the official said.
Among the matters discussed during the meeting were the different screening procedures to detect illegal drugs being implemented by each courier company, in particular the use of narcotic detection dogs (NDDs) and X-rays on suspicious packages.
“PDEA also requested them to provide the agency a small and secured room to inspect suspected parcels containing dangerous drugs. This would prevent possible security breaches and inside job,” Aquino explained.
The PDEA chief said that drug syndicates always find ways to conveniently transport illegal drugs, including the use of mail and parcel courier service.
“They believed that the safest way to move illegal drugs covertly is through mail, because detection is much lower due to anonymity and use of fictitious names to mislead authorities. The absence of human contact in transporting dangerous drugs makes it nearly impossible to identify its owner,” he explained.
However, he said that the PDEA will always remain vigilant to ensure that packages containing illegal drugs are intercepted.
The official encouraged the full participation of the courier service providers in future interdiction operations.
PDEA regularly conducts random K9 sweeping and parcel screening on all cargo terminals nationwide.
These led to the successful conduct of 102 mail and parcel interdiction operations and seizure of millions of pesos worth of illegal drugs and the arrests of consignees since 2013.
PDEA is expected to acquire an additional 100 NDDs in 2018 with training worth P500,000 for each dog. Currently, the PDEA K9-unit has 52 NDDs and 57 handlers in 17 regions nationwide.
Aquino earlier announced the confiscation of around P60 million worth of shabu concealed in two packages from the United States which were declared as containing Christmas items in two separate interdiction operations at the office of a Pasay City-based cargo firm.
The PDEA chief said that the parcels containing the huge amount of shabu were sent by a certain ‘Mr. Tyler Wilson’ with address at No. 4313 Sepulveda Boulevard, Culver City, California 90230 to the consignees identified as Rogelio Almodiel, a resident of No. 11 North Stamford Residence, Tower 2, Upper Mckinley Road corner Florence Way Road, Taguig City; and Hasmine Erquiza of No. 32 Vicente España Subdivision, Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City
Last November 29, he said that members of the PDEA National Capital Region Office headed by Director Ismael Fajardo Jr. and the NAIA-IADITG intercepted one of the packages containing approximately six kilograms of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ worth P30 million inside the branch of a multinational courier delivery service along Andrews Avenue in Pasay City.
“The package was declared as toys consisting of wooden blocks-Christmas edition and its intended receiver was Almodiel,” Aquino said.
Last December 4, the same PDEA team intercepted another parcel consigned to Erquiza which was found to be containing some 5.5 kilos of suspected shabu worth P27.5 million. The parcel was passed off as children’s toys and puzzles, said Aquino.
Aquino said no arrests were made as none of the consignees or their representatives showed up to claim the parcels when they were delivered by undercover PDEA officers to their given addresses.
He said that Almodiel and Erquiza are now facing charges for violation of Section 4 (Importation of Dangerous Drugs), Article II of Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.