A MAJOR transnational drug cartel in Southeast Asia has been smuggling in shabu via the Sulu Sea, and Cagayan de Oro is among the cities that has been identified as a distribution point in Mindanao, the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency revealed on Monday.
Over ANC News Channel, PDEA secretary general Aaron Aquino said the illegal drugs are being brought in from either Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand.
Aquino said the drugs pass are smuggled in through Zamboanga City and then distributed to Mindanao cities, including Cagayan de Oro, Cebu and other parts of the Visayas.
“From Zamboanga, it will be distributed to Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, and all other parts of Visayas and Mindanao. Most of the time, it also infiltrates Metro Manila,” ANC quoted Aquino as saying.
This explains, he said, why illegal drugs are a bit cheaper in Mindanao.
Aquino identified the crime behind this operation as the “Golden Triangle” group.
The “Golden Triangle,” coined by the US’ Central Intelligence Agency, broadly refers to a nearly one-million square kilometer area in Southeast Asia that was identified as a major source of opium since the 1950s. According to reports, it has since shifted to the mass production of methamphetamine hydrochloride or more known in the Philippines as shabu.
Aquino’s revelation came even as Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) director general Nicanor Faeldon told a gathering in Davao City that the country’s problem on illegal drugs can be addressed by eliminating the “well-funded gangs” that are running the trade.
Speaking on the second day of the two-day “Rehabinasyon: The First National Anti-Drugs Summit” at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao, Faeldon said detained drug lords manage to continue their operations through gang members who peddle illegal drugs on the streets.
He said the Bucor has already prohibited the creation of and recruitment by gangs in all its detention facilities and encouraged other jails under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to do the same to “weaken the infrastructure of this gangster, to remove their capability to operate nationwide.”
“I would like to encourage facilities to prohibit it also because gang members, there are several of them on the streets and when a gang member belonging to (Herbert) Colanggo, the entire infrastructure of that gang will help that member,” he said.
Faeldon explained that gangsters caught by authorities would normally get the support of the detained drug lords who provide them lawyers and financial support because they “are the ones selling their business on the streets, so they would give protection to the gangsters on the streets.”
He said the estimated 300,000 gang members in the country distribute illegal drugs from their leaders.
He added jail facilities in the previous administrations recognized and allowed them to build their dormitories inside the jail facilities and continue their illegal transactions, similar to the gangs of convicted drug lords Jaybee Sebastian and Herbert Colanggo, who made headlines in 2016 for their alleged links to former Justice secretary and now Sen. Leila de Lima.
De Lima is being detained for drug-related charges.
Faeldon blamed the government and society for allowing the gangs in the country to grow.
He added even movies about gangsters fanned the interest of the children to become gangsters as they grow up.
“As early as 1950s, we had gangs, they were small then but the public, especially the government recognizes them, helps them grow. We allowed them to have their dormitories identified as gang OXO (Original Ex-convict Organization) and later on it has spawned several others in our different facilities. In fact, we deal with them as gangs since then and up to today,” he said.
He said the BJMP should prevent recruitment of new gang members because most of them are recruited while the indicted suspects undergo litigation.
He said at least 99.99 percent of the inmates are already members of the gangs before they are moved to Bucor detention facilities.
“After conviction, they are already gang members,” he said.
Before his stint at Bucor, Faeldon served as commissioner of the Bureau of Customs. It was during his watch at BOC that some P6.4 billion worth of shabu smuggled from China slipped through the Manila International Container Port in May 2017.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV tagged former Davao vice mayor Paolo Duterte and brother-in-law Manases Carpio as behind the smuggling.
Duterte and Carpio denied the allegations and they filed libel charges against Trillanes. (Herbie Gomez, with reports from Antonio Colina IV of Mindanews in Davao)