Philippines: drug trade through mail going up

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Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Aaron Aquino destroys laboratory equipment used for production of illegal drugs in Cavite Province, the Philippines, July 27, 2018. Xinhua

MANILA (Xinhua) – The Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has expressed concern over the significant increase in the number of incidents of trafficking of illicit drugs using mail and parcel courier services.

PDEA director general, Aaron Aquino said that in 2018 they intercepted a total of 35 incidents involving foreign express delivery and domestic courier services transporting illicit drugs, an increase of 775 percent from four incidents in 2017.

Mr Aquino said 672 million pesos (US$13 million) worth of illegal drugs, including 94.67 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride, 16,713 ecstasy tablets and 1,109.5 grams of marijuana kush sent through foreign and domestic courier services, were intercepted in 2018.

He said PDEA also arrested 1,612 high-value targets last year, among them 43 government employees, 57 elected officials and 15 uniformed personnel as well as 53 foreigners.

“Smuggling of dangerous drugs through courier services is one of the modus operandi used by drug syndicates to ensure the supply of illegal drugs in the country,” Mr Aquino said in a statement.

Out of the interdiction operations conducted, Mr Aquino said 27 were interception of packages containing illegal drugs that originated from California, the United States.

Since 2015, Mr Aquino said the total estimated market value of illegal drugs concealed inside packages that were intercepted by PDEA, with the support of local law enforcement agencies and foreign counterparts, amounted to 966.3 million pesos (US$19 million).

He credited the increase in the interception of drug-laden parcels to the enhanced capability of PDEA personnel to detect them.

PDEA agents assigned at the airports and seaports went through X-ray cargo screening training conducted by the Office of the Transportation Security.

“They regularly conduct K9 sweeping and parcel screening on all cargo terminals nationwide,” Mr Aquino said.

He said the agency has put up three airport interdiction units, three international airport interagency interdiction task groups and 12 seaport interdiction units to abort the entry of the illegal drugs through “vulnerable” seaports and airports.

“PDEA remains vigilant to ensure packages containing illegal drugs are intercepted and kept from being delivered,” Mr Aquino said.

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