Co­caine found in Bi­col wa­ters

Dis­cov­ery comes af­ter drug con­tain­ers found in Sor­so­gon, Is­abela early this year

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —STORY BY DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.

LUCENA CITY— Que­zon fish­er­men found 28 kilo­grams of co­caine in a plas­tic con­tainer in wa­ters off Ca­marines Norte on Sun­day. Po­lice es­ti­mated the find to be worth P162 mil­lion. They ap­pealed to other fish­er­men who found sim­i­lar con­tain­ers or packs of il­le­gal drugs to sur­ren­der these to au­thor­i­ties. Ear­lier this year, packs of co­caine were also found in Sor­so­gon and Is­abela.

A group of fish­er­men from Que­zon prov­ince found a plas­tic con­tainer filled with 28 kilo­grams of co­caine in the wa­ters off Bi­col re­gion on Sun­day night, a lo­cal of­fi­cial told the In­quirer on Tues­day.

Councilor Leonardo Reyes, pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion of vil­lage chiefs in Perez town, Que­zon, said four fish­er­men dis­cov­ered 28 sealed packs, weigh­ing a kilo­gram each, when they opened the con­tainer they re­trieved while fish­ing in the Pa­cific Ocean fac­ing main­land Bi­col.

Po­lice es­ti­mated that the packs of co­caine were worth at least P162 mil­lion.

“When I was in­formed by the boat owner [about the fish­er­men’s dis­cov­ery], I [in­structed him] that the re­cov­ered items should be im­me­di­ately sur­ren­dered to the po­lice,” Reyes said in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

High-grade

He said lab­o­ra­tory tests done by the po­lice con­firmed that the sub­stance was “high­grade” co­caine.

Boat cap­tain Edgar Rey said he and his com­pan­ions ini­tially thought that they found a con­tainer of gasoline as their boat passed through the ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters of Ca­marines Norte prov­ince.

“While we knew that what we found was equiv­a­lent to a huge sum of money, our im­me­di­ate con­sen­sus and de­ci­sion was to sur­ren­der it to the po­lice be­cause it was the right thing to do,” Rey said.

Se­nior Supt. Rhod­er­ick Ar­ma­mento, Que­zon po­lice di­rec­tor, thanked the fish­er­men for turn­ing over the co­caine.

“Thou­sands of lives will be wasted if that bulk falls into the hands of un­scrupu­lous per­sons,” Ar­ma­mento said.

Chief Insp. Marcelito Platino, Que­zon po­lice pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer, said the po­lice were val­i­dat­ing in­for­ma­tion that other fish­er­men from Ala­bat Is­land, where the towns of Perez, Ala­bat and Que­zon were lo­cated, also re­cov­ered sim­i­lar packs of co­caine.

He asked fish­er­men still keep­ing the co­caine to turn over the con­tra­band to the po­lice.

“It would not be easy for them to find buy­ers. We would con­fis­cate them be­fore they could turn them into cash,” he added.

Reyes said the plas­tic con­tainer had 30 sealed packs but the fish­er­men opened three, sus­pect­ing that it con­tained money.

Foul smell

“But they said they threw the packs into the wa­ter due to their foul smell,” Reyes said.

Au­thor­i­ties here be­lieved that the il­le­gal drugs were part of sim­i­lar con­tain­ers of co­caine found in Sor­so­gon and Is­abela prov­inces early this year.

On Jan. 3, a plas­tic con­tainer filled with 24 kg of co­caine was washed ashore at Matnog town in Sor­so­gon.

Po­lice and anti­nar­cotics of­fi­cials launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that looked into a for­eign cargo ves­sel, which sank off North­ern Sa­mar prov­ince on Jan. 2, as a pos­si­ble source of the il­le­gal drugs.

On Feb. 6, co­caine sealed in a blue plas­tic con­tainer was found float­ing in wa­ters off Divi­la­can in Is­abela. The co­caine, in eight packs, weighed about 19 kg and was worth P80 mil­lion.

On Feb. 3, a fish­er­man in Guiuan town, Eastern Sa­mar prov­ince, found 25 packs con­tain­ing sub­stance ini­tially sus­pected to be co­caine. But tests showed that these con­tained chlo­ride.

Platino said po­lice tasked of­fi­cials of coastal vil­lages to mon­i­tor their wa­ters to pre­vent smug­gling of il­le­gal drugs.

Thirty-four of Que­zon’s 42 towns are coastal com­mu­ni­ties—17 along La­mon Bay in the Pa­cific Ocean, 12 off Tayabas Bay and five along Ra­gay Gulf.

—CLIFFORD NUÑEZ

EMERG­ING DES­TI­NA­TION The white sand beach of Se­poc Point in Tin­gloy, Batan­gas, has been at­tract­ing tourists due to travel blogs and so­cial me­dia posts.

—DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.

DRUG FIND Fish­er­men from Perez, Que­zon, re­trieved this plas­tic con­tainer think­ing it was filled with gasoline. They were sur­prised to find packs of high-grade co­caine in­side.

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