MANILA — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed drug trafficking charges before the Department of Justice (DoJ) against two traders and seven others in connection with the PHP6.4 billion shabu seized last May 26 in two warehouses in Valenzuela City.
In a 15-page letter complaint filed by NBI-Anti Organized and Transnational Crime Division (AOTCD) dated Aug. 14, Taiwanese nationals Chen Min and Jhu Ming Jyun, Chinese nationals Chen Ju Long a.k.a. Richard Tan, Richard Chen and Li Guang Feng and Filipino nationals Fidel Anoche Dee, businessman Dong Yi Shen alias Kenneth Dong, Customs broker Mark Ruben G. Taguba II, Teejay A. Marcellana and Eirene May A. Tatad were charged with violating Section 4 (Importation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals) of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The NBI said the respondents were responsible for the importation of the illegal drugs from China and which were later recovered by authorities inside the warehouse of Hongfei Logistics Group of Companies in Valenzuela City which is owned by Richard Chen.
“Subjects, through their indispensable cooperation, caused the importation of five wooden crates from China. These crates contain cylinders packed with a total of 605 transparent plastic bags containing methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug. The total net weight of the specimen is 602.279 kilograms. Thus, in violation of Section 4 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act for importation of dangerous drugs,” read the letter complaint.
The NBI also asked the DOJ to prosecute Li, Dong and Taguba for unauthorized practice of customs broker profession under Section 28 of Republic Act 9280 (Customs Brokers Act of 2004).
“Verification conducted with the Professional Regulations Commission revealed that subjects Li Guang Feng, Dong Ye Shin and Mark Ruben Taguba are not registered Customs brokers,” the NBI added.
Richard Chen tapped Li for the processing of the release of the shipment declared as kitchenware, footwear and moldings from the Bureau of Customs. Li then tapped Dong to look for a customs broker to facilitate the release.
Dong later on contracted Taguba, who has been testifying in congressional inquiries about the drug smuggling case, and Marcellana as brokers.
On the other hand, Tatad is the sole proprietor of EMT Trading which was identified as the consignee for the shabu shipment that was declared as general merchandise, and its content was certified by China’s Customs.
Chen (Min) and Jhu were identified by Chinese authorities as real owners of the shipment. Their alleged local contact, Dee, was arrested by authorities upon receiving the contraband.
Dong was the alleged middleman of Tan in the smuggling of the illegal drug from China while Lee, who was later arrested by authorities, was the consignee of the shipment.
The crates contain 605 transparent plastic bags of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.
The respondents, except for Marcellana and Tatad, were the subject of an immigration look-out bulletin order (ILBO) issued by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II early this month.
Aguirre said the issuance of an ILBO is a prudent thing to do to “at least monitor the itineraries of the flight, travel and or whereabouts” of the said person considering the gravity of the offenses possibly committed.”
The DOJ chief also directed NBI Director Dante Gierran to obtain additional information on the suspects such as their latest photo, other known aliases, place of birth and a copy of the passport.
The discovery of the shabu shipment has put the Bureau of Customs in hot water with allegations of corruption involving its officials as revealed by Taguba during his testimony in the ongoing congressional inquiry.
During the House hearing on the entry of P6.4 billion shabu shipment in the country, Taguba implicated a trusted aide of BOC chief Nicanor Faeldon, along with several others, in the alleged PHP270 million in bribes to BOC personnel in exchange for prompt release of shipments.
Among those accused by Taguba were Customs Import Assessment Services (IAS) Director Milo Maestrecampo, Faeldon’s former colleague in the military; Teddy Raval of the Intelligence Group; intelligence officer Teodoro Sagaral; district collector Vincent Maronilla; director Niel Estrella of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service; a certain “Major Gutierrez” who turned out to be already deceased; a certain Jayson and Maita, the latter from the formal entry division.
The controversy has prompted Estrella and Maestrecampo to offer their resignation from their respective posts. (PNA)