Authorities seized Monday night a 50-meter Chinese fishing vessel-cum-floating shabu laboratory off the coast of Subic in Zambales, arrested four Hong Kong nationals and recovered half a kilo of shabu valued at P2.5 million.
This is the second time that a shabu floating laboratory was discovered in Philippine waters. The first one was in 2013.
Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) spokesman Supt. Enrico Rigor said they learned about the floating shabu lab after the arrest of a member of a drug syndicate and confirmed by tipsters.
“I believe this is the first time that we encountered this — a floating shabu laboratory. We are yet to determine how large the production but we believe that this ship is supplying a big portion of the shabu consumption in Luzon,” said Rigor.
The raid on the fishing vessel which was docked 30 minutes away from the Subic Bay port was pulled before midnight Monday.
“It’s a fishing vessel. But when it was boarded, there is no trace whatsoever that it is being used or was previously used for fishing,’ said Rigor.
PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa motored to the area, inspected the ship and confronted the four Hongkongese identified as Shu Fook Leung, 49; Kam Wah Kwok, 47; Wing Fai Lo, 42; and Kwok Tung Chan, 29. One of them is a chemist.
Rigor said the vessel is equipped with high-tech navigation equipment which includes a sonar capable of detecting approaching ships.
Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius Ferro, AIDG director, said the K-9 dog of the Coast Guard sat down in one of the areas of the ship indicating traces of shabu inside.
Authorities seized a transparent plastic pack containing half-a-kilo of white substance suspected to be shabu and the hydrogenator which, according to sources is capable of manufacturing 25 kilos of shabu a day.
The travel record of the Hongkong nationals show that they arrived in the country by plane seven days ago. Kwok, according to Rigor had been to other countries, including Europe prior to his arrest.
“We believe that they are the chemists. They were there for the manufacturing of the shabu inside the vessel,” said Rigor.
Tipsters said the fishing boat has been in the area since May sailing in the areas of Ilocos, Cagayan and Subic area at least three times in the past months. Persons on speedboats and jet skis were also seen visiting the docked vessel.
Rigor said they are eyeing the possibility that the P1 billion worth of shabu which was dug up on a beach resort in Cagayan recently came from the fishing vessel. Cohorts may have already unloaded a shabu shipment when the AIDG operatives boarded the vessel which explains why they only seized a small amount of shabu.
Based on intelligence reports, Rigor said the vessel would get either finished product or raw ingredients in manufacturing shabu from China.
“It only takes two to three days to manufacture shabu. And this seems to be the safest for them to manufacture shabu in the sea,” said Rigor.
The Hong Kong nationals will be brought to the AIDG headquarters in Camp Crame and charged with violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. The vessel is currently being guarded by the Coast Guard. ( Aaron B. Recuenco, with reports from Jonas Reyes, Franco G. Regala, Manila Bulletin and PNA)
ON ALL FRONTS – What looks like an ordinary fishing vessel on the outside (left photo) is actually a floating shabu laboratory that was seized by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in an operation Monday in Subic Bay. PNP chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa (Inset) confronts four Chinese nationals nabbed in the 50-meter vessel which was said to have ferried drug shipments to Zambales, the Ilocos, Cagayan, and Pangasinan. (Jonas Reyes, PNP-Public Information Office Photo/mb.com.ph)