An estimated PHP2.5 billion (US$49 million) worth of meth (shabu) was seized by officials from a Chinese national in a buy-bust operation in Makati City last night.
Police seized 471 kilos of illegal drugs from suspect Liu Chao in an anti-drug operation in his rented apartment on Banuyo Street in San Antonio Village. Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said the bust was one of the largest meth hauls this year, CNN Philippines reports.
The sting took place at around 11:45pm inside the quiet Makati neighborhood, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Lt. Gen. Gamboa said he believed the meth seized was imported, but investigators are still confirming the theory.
“[W]e have not really discovered any shabu [meth] laboratory in the Philippines. And based on our intelligence gathering, there are none as of yet that are existing, so all of these [appear to] be coming from the outside,” Gamboa said.
Gamboa also insisted that while the suspect arrested was a Chinese national, it didn’t necessarily mean the drugs were from China.
China’s alleged place in the Philippine drug trade has been the subject of some debate recently. Vice President and short-lived drug czar Leni Robredo cited US officials earlier this month in saying that the majority of illegal drugs smuggled into the Philippines came from China — President Rodrigo Duterte’s new best geopolitical chum following a much-vaunted policy pivot.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, however, was quick to disagree, saying the bulk of drug imports came from syndicates in the notorious Golden Triangle region of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand, and that Chinese drug lords have laid low since the Duterte government started its anti-drug campaign in 2016.
In a separate interview with radio station DZMM, Gamboa said the suspect arrested in last night’s bust posed as the caretaker of the apartment when he sold the drugs. The meth was placed inside a dog food bag before it was sold to an undercover cop.
The police had been monitoring the suspect for over two weeks before the buy-bust transaction. Chao was allegedly unable to speak English, and used a phone translator app to conduct the transaction.
Chao is now in the custody of the police, and Gamboa says they are coordinating with the Chinese Embassy in Manila to verify his identity.
Officials are also investigating how the illegal drugs were transported to Makati, and if Chao worked with other people to commit the crime.
This article, Meth worth at least PHP2.5B seized from suspected Chinese national in Makati City, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!