LEGAZPI CITY, April 12 (PNA) -- A combined police and military team seized big plastic sachets of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) estimated to have a street value of PHp50 million inside an abandoned blue van at Matnog Port in Sorsogon Tuesday afternoon, the top official of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO-5) said in a press conference late Tuesday evening at Camp Simeon Ola here.
“The anti-narcotics lawmen found the shabu inside a blue-colored Toyota Revo GLX van (WLP-687) at Matnog port compound,” said Chief Supt. Melvin Buenafe, PRO5 director.
He said the shabu contraband, which weighed 10 kilos, were placed inside 20 pieces of big plastic sachets, each of which was packed with half a kilo of the illegal drug.
“The Dangerous Drugs Board estimated the value of the 20 sachets at PHp50 million,” he added.
Senior Supt. Ronaldo Cabral, Sorsogon Provincial Police Office director and Chief Insp. Jeric Don Sadia, chief of Matnog Municipal Police Office, joined Buenafe in presenting before media the confiscated illegal drug.
Buenafe said police had been tipped off by port authorities about the vehicle left behind by unidentified men at around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
He said the port authorities, who sensed danger and suspected that there might be an improvised explosive device or IED inside the van, reported the matter to the Matnog Municipal Police Office.
Cabral immediately organized an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Division) team from the Matnog MPO, 31st Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army, K9 unit from the Sorsogon Provincial Public Safety Company, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Philippine Coast Guard and cordoned off the area.
“At around 3:45 p.m. the team was able to forcibly open the vehicle and discovered the illegal drugs,” said Buenafe.
He said that upon search of the van, they found an identification card, tickets from passenger ships and based on the vehicle’s documents, the car was found registered to a certain Ramil Luna Mercado of Fisherman's village, Navotas in Metro Manila, who is now a suspect for involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Buenafe raised the possibility that the suspect had been delivering drugs in the Visayas and Mindanao regions a week before the abandoned vehicle was discovered by the lawmen.
“They were able to recover some receipt and tickets from Lipata town in Surigao and Liloan town in Leyte province,” he said.
Buenafe said the authorities believe the vehicle with the illegal drug was left behind by the suspects because of the strict and tight security inside the port compound and passenger vessel.
He said the suspects had been wary too of the presence of police and military officers inside the area.
Buenafe said the Bicol police authorities are currently coordinating with Navotas authorities to verify the identity of the suspect who is now the subject of a pursuit operation.
He said the suspect is deemed “big-time courier or dealer” because of the bulk of shabu recovered from the car.
“We would file a case against the suspect after our verification," he added.
After learning of the good news, PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa had called up the Bicol police authorities and congratulated Buenafe.
Director General Dela Rosa created a team under Cabral.
Buenafe assured the public they will be more vigilant and strict in passenger bus terminals and sea ports so they can intercept similar illegal contrabands.
He assured the security of the public not just during the summer season but also during the year round campaign of the Philippine National Police and its other partner agencies.
The recovered shabu had been turned over to the regional crime laboratory at Camp Ola here for further examination and safekeeping. (PNA)