According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the illegal drug trade is exploiting foreign express delivery and domestic courier services to traffic contraband substances into and around the country. The number of drug busts involving these services rose a significant amount in 2018.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said on Tuesday that last year saw a huge jump in the number of intercepted illegal drugs via courier services. 2018 had a total of 35 incidents, a 775-percent increase from the mere four incidents in 2017.
11 consignees were arrested thanks to parcel interdiction operations in airports and seaports. These same operations led to the seizure of 94.67 kg of shabu, 16,713 ecstasy tablets, and 1,109.5 grams of the potent hybrid marijuana kush. In total, the estimated market value of the seized goods is P672,161,877.88.
“Smuggling of dangerous drugs thru courier services is one of the modus/means used by drug syndicates to ensure the supply of illegal drugs in the country,” said Aquino on Tuesday.
“Out of the interdiction operations conducted, 27 were interception of packages containing illegal drugs that originated from California, USA,” he added.
Since 2015, the total value of drug-laden parcels intercepted by PDEA with the support of local law enforcement agencies and their foreign counterparts amounted to P966,257,517.88. 2018’s operations contributed significantly to this figure.
According to Aquino, the increased number of intercepted drug-laden parcels is thanks to the enhanced capability of PDEA personnel. Aquino also thanked the courier service providers for participating with PDEA, leading to the successful interception of many packages.
While drug smugglers have long exploited courier services, they now face greater difficulties moving their product thanks to PDEA’s strengthened campaigned against drugs. PDEA agents are assigned in airports and seaports to screen packages for illegal substances. These agents have been trained in X-ray cargo screening by the Office of Transportation Security.
Aquino also said that regular K9 sweeping and parcel screening operations are held in all cargo terminals nationwide.
Further, PDAE has established three Airport Interdiction Units, three International Airport Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Groups, and 12 Seaport Interdiction Units in its regional office.
“PDEA remains vigilant to ensure packages containing illegal drugs are intercepted and kept from being delivered,” the PDEA chief said.