By Rene Acosta, February 27 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to ABS-CBN News

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is looking at the possibility that the bricks of cocaine that were successively fished out of the waters in the country’s eastern seaboard beginning early this month may have come from Mexico or Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle.

PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said this possibility cropped up following confirmation that one of the earlier recovered drugs in the waters of Sorsogon in the Bicol region came from Columbia, as indicated by the result of tests.

“We conducted a drug purity profiling of the drugs that we recovered in Matnog, Sorsogon, and it came out that it is from Columbia,” Aquino told radio station dzMM, which validated earlier claims of international drug cartels’ operations in the country like the Sinaloa of Mexico.

However, Aquino said the Columbian source can’t be confirmed yet for other recoveries like those that have been fished out in the waters of Quezon, Camarines Norte, Aurora, Dinagat, Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental, since Columbia is still considered just too far from the country.

“We are taking representative samples from those that we recovered from Siargao, Dinagat and other areas and we are sending it to America for us to really determine the source of these drugs,” he said.

If they are not of Mexican source, the official raised the possibility that the cocaine could have come from drug syndicates based or operating in the Golden Triangle, the opium-rich region in the tri-boundaries of Lao PDR, Burma and Thailand.

“We are also looking at the Golden Triangle since they are also involved in opium and cocaine,” Aquino said.

The PDEA director general said the possible dumping of cocaine in the country’s eastern seaboard could be a ploy by drug syndicates to bring in drugs, or use other parts of the country’s waters, for their transshipment operations, noting that the country has vast maritime waters which could not all be covered by patrols, even by the Philippine Navy.

“So there is a probability that cocaine were being deliberately floated in the eastern side, while a big shipment of shabu is now going in the western or maybe northern or southern part. So we could see the diversionary tactics,” he said.

In the case of cocaine, Aquino said once they reached the country, they would be repacked for international markets like Hong Kong, China and Australia.

Unlike shabu, marijuana and ecstacy, cocaine is not popular among Filipino drug users, according to Aquino, and this is the reason why the price of cocaine in the country is comparatively lower than shabu.

“Cocaine has only 2 up to 3 percent of the drugs market in the Philippines,” Aquino said. “And since it is not the drugs of choice, it is much cheaper.”

According to him, a gram of shabu fetches P6,800, while a gram of cocaine only costs about P5,400.