Methamphetamine hydrochloride or otherwise known as shabu (photo from ddb.gov.ph)
Twenty-six-year-old Nazarene Obillo filled out his customs declaration form before leaving Terminal one of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Saturday morning. He had flown in from Hanoi, Vietnam.
Airport security footage showed that he carried a wheeled luggage bag, which Obillo told customs personnel contained personal items.
But nothing showed up on the x-ray inspection, which made the inspectors suspicious.
At that point, Obillo asked to go to the restroom, but never returned.
Calling for back-up from agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), inspectors opened the luggage and found two packages of what was later confirmed to be high-grade methamphetamine, locally known as shabu.
At over five kilos, anti-narcotics agents estimated the haul’s value at P35 million.
With Obillo gone, authorities found an address on his customs declaration form and tracked him to his hometown in Moncada, Tarlac where he was arrested.
Customs officials said, Obillo only left the Philippines this September, and first boarded a flight in Siem Reap, Cambodia. They believed his actions indicated he is a novice drug courier.
“Magaling po siya, hindi siya nag-rattle. Taxable item ang pinagdudahan natin. E pag taxable item, hindi mo iiwanan yan. Ang usual courier itatago mo identity mo. Hindi ka magtatagal diyan, hindi mo ilalagay address mo,’’ Marlon Agaceta, chief of the law division of the Bureau of Customs-NAIA said.
The PDEA said the drugs may have come from the so-called “Golden Triangle”, a drug production hub in Southeast Asia between the borders of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand that targets Filipino drug users.
“Cambodia is one of the sources considering the fact that it is very near the Golden Triangle. We don’t have direct flight so if they cross the border, yun ang may direct flight sa atin,” Gerald Javier, Deputy Task Group Commander of NAIA – IADITG said.
“If they can import 1.6 tons of shabu, E ito 5 kilos lang, talagang for local consumption yan,” Ma. Lourdes Mangaoan, Deputy Collector for Passenger Services of BOC-NAIA said.
Obillo refused to comment. He now faces life in prison.
While the drugs were cleverly sealed to elude detection, authorities made the arrest by using upgraded equipment and tight inter-agency coordination.
However, they admitted to a lapse in allowing the suspect to leave for the restroom even if his luggage was under question.
“So we learned our lesson na next time we will ask the assistance of ESS CIIS (Enforcement Security Service, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service) na kapag may X bantayan na nila. Well, hindi na papayagang pumunta ng CR dapat. Mangaoang said.
For now, the anti-Drug agency is tracing Obillo’s possible accomplices. (Jasper Camilo)