Cocaine worth P19.6 million seized at NAIA Terminal 3

The man who was arrested with P19.6 million worth of cocaine in his luggage will be interrogated if he's a member of an international drug syndicate working in the country. (Photo credits: Bureau of Customs NAIA/Facebook)
The man who was arrested with P19.6 million worth of cocaine in his luggage will be interrogated if he's a member of an international drug syndicate working in the country. (Photo credits: Bureau of Customs NAIA/Facebook)

Government operatives arrested an elderly American man after confiscating P19.6 million worth of cocaine in his luggage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 on Tuesday (September 27).

Initial reports say that the suspect, Stephen Joseph Szuhar, a 75-year-old United States (US) citizen from Tampa, Florida, and a retired casino manager, carried with him around 3.7 kg of cocaine before he was arrested in a joint operation conducted by the Bureau of Customs (BOC), NAIA-Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Trusted informants tipped the agencies on a certain traveler coming from Doha who was carrying illegal drugs in his luggage, and as soon as he landed, authorities were able to intercept him at the Customs International Arrival Area of the NAIA Terminal 3.

Szuhar arrived in the Philippines from Doha, Qatar via Qatar Airways Flight QR 932 at around 8 o’clock in the evening, and after screening his belongings with a K9 dog, x-ray, and physical examination, the cocaine was found.

The operatives also confiscated one black luggage labeled “YIN’S” containing clothes, carbon papers, and three pouches made of packaging tape, each containing a white powdering substance.

Szuhar’s point of origin, as well as the drugs he was carrying, was in Brazil.

Other pieces of evidence seized from his belongings have already been brought to the PDEA Laboratory Service for further examination and investigation.

Szuhar is now at the PDEA Regional Office National Capital Region Custodial Jail Facility, where he will be interrogated to determine if he’s part of an international drug syndicate operating in the country.

He will also face charges of violation of the Republic Act (RA) 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, and RA 10863, the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.

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