With the iron fist policy of the previous Duterte administration against illegal drugs already
relegated to history we now learn of reports of how individuals either singly or in groups are once
more attempting to smuggle into the country illegal drugs such as cocaine and its derivative liquid
cocaine as well as methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, also otherwise known as “poor man’s cocaine”

These individuals or groups are surprisingly foreign nationals who are in all likelihood either part of a bigger criminal syndicate such as a drug cartel or have been forced to become unwitting or unwilling drug mules by these criminal organizations. Now a drug mule is a different specie of drug courier altogether since they are more or less reluctant participants in the operation of the illicit drug trade.

They are for the most part victims of this criminal drug organizations who have been compelled against their will to become transporters of illegal drugs into a country most often without any compensation apart from perhaps a tenuous promise of seeing their loved ones alive after being held hostage to secure the drug mule’s compliance. Or it can also be as a means of paying off a debt when the loan falls due or even a condition for admission into the criminal organization.

There are many ways by which an individual or groups of individuals can become drug mules for drug syndicates or drug cartels and so it falls upon the government of a country where the illegal drugs will be delivered to make sure that these drug mules are not successful in their undertaking.
A quick search online would show that since the start of this year there have already been five failed or foiled attempts by foreign drug couriers to bring into the country illegal drugs such as cocaine or shabu thru the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In March of this year authorities intercepted 3.94 kilos of cocaine and 1,500 milliliters of liquid cocaine with an estimated value pegged at more than 28 million pesos from a Turkish national by identified as Kemal Ozenir who arrived at the Terminal 3 of NAIA via an Emirates flight from Dubai. Whether Mr. Ozenir is a member of a drug syndicate remains to be seen and whether his origin of departure actually began in Dubai still needs to be established.

In May of this year a Salvadoran tourist by the name of Franco Quintanilla Domingo was arrested upon his arrival at NAIA aboard an airplane from Qatar and was discovered to have been carrying 3,120 grams of cocaine inside his luggage. It was determined that he originally came from Brazil but if that is just one of the waypoints of his travel then further investigation of his travel should be undertaken.

Meantime in June of this year, authorities again confiscated 13.8 kilos of shabu estimated to be worth around 55 million pesos and arrested a Liberian mechanical engineer by the name of Philip
Campbell who arrived on a flight from Qatar but who originally came from Lagos, Nigeria. Also in
September of this year a Singaporean mother and daughter were arrested at NAIA for attempting to smuggle into the country 14.36 kilos of cocaine with an estimated worth of 76 million pesos.

Their flight of origin was established to be again from Doha, Qatar. And finally just this month of October, barely a week ago agents of the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) foiled an attempt by a 27 year old Malaysian by the name of Mohammad Ahtsham bin Mohammad Afzal who arrived at NAIA from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia bringing with him 3,722
grams of suspected shabu with an estimated value of 25 million pesos.

While Philippine authorities are to be congratulated for intercepting and foiling these attempts to bring into the country illegal drugs we must also understand that these drug syndicates or drug cartels will not stop from their nefarious activity of selling and distributing their contraband and are willing to use any means and adapt to any situation that may arise to accomplish their dark intentions.

So while we heap praises and congratulations to our well deserving NAIA personnel as well as other offices and agencies tasked with monitoring the transshipment of illegal drugs into the country it is
also important for existing preventive measures to continually evolve in order to attain effective
controls in various points of entry not only in NAIA. The government must likewise be wary of those situations where it is successful in stopping illegal drugs from entering the country via
NAIA but unaware that a lot more of these illicit drugs have arrived into the country through various ports and coastal areas in the archipelago.

We certainly do not want a scenario where drug syndicates and drug cartels are once again emboldened to operate with impunity knowing that they have protectors who have their back when their operation goes sideways. It also goes without saying that tighter and more effective controls are needed, especially along our borders, if the government is to blunt continuing attempts by these
purveyors of illegal drugs and prevent the country from becoming a narco-State.

Such controls may include drug sniffing dogs at all points of entry in the country whether domestic or international travel in nature meaning that NAIA should have its own K9 unit with probably 10 dogs at the least, regularly patrolling and sniffing packages, luggage’s and cargo brought into the country from that airport. That can also be replicated in other international airports located in
other areas of the country. If we regularly use drug sniffing dogs to augment x-ray machines at the
airport then probably more drug interceptions and seizures will occur.

Amianan Balita Ngayon