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Floating boxes found off the waters of Sorsogon confirmed to be cocaine

LEGAZPI CITY ---The Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory here has confirmed that the mysterious packages fished out from the sea waters in Gubat, Sorsogon were indeed cocaine, an illegal drug, according to a top official of the PNP in Bicol Tuesday morning.

Police/BGen. Arnel Escobal, Bicol PNP chief, said that the packages, consisting of 40 blocks of cocaine kept in 12 boxes that altogether weighed 39 kilos, were found by local fishermen floating off “Nabat-an” waters in Barangay Bagacay in Gubat town in Sorsogon at around 12:00 noon Monday.

Fishermen Melvin Gregorio, Loubert Ergina and John Mark Nabong, all residents of said village, immediately turned over the mysterious packages to the town’s police station, Escobal said.

Escobal, quoting the crime laboratory report, said examination result showed that the substance was positively found to be cocaine.

At a news conference, Escobal said the recovered 40 blocks of cocaine have a street value of P218M. “This is so far the biggest cocaine haul recovered in Bicol,” the regional police chief said.

He said the recovered 39 kilos of cocaine brought to a total of 50 kilos of the prohibited substance that were fished out from the Bicol coastal waters since February last year. All in all, the amount of cocaine recovered has reached P280M in Bicol alone.

During that period last year, blocks of cocaine were recovered floating in the coastal waters of Vinzons and Paracale towns in Camarines Norte, and Baras and Bagamanoc towns in Catanduanes.

The cocaine fished out of the Bicol waters were found to have tracking instruments in it, the police report said

When asked to comment on reports that the recovery of cocaine would make the Bicol region a transshipment point for illegal drugs, Escobal said there are no basis or intelligence reports yet to substantiate such apprehension.

The Bicol police chief even dismissed speculation that the Bicol region had been tagged by the administration as “hot bed” for illegal drug operations for the main reason that the region is a known opposition bailiwick of Vice President Leni Robredo.

Sources claim that tagging Bicol as a “hot bed” for illegal drugs would discredit Robredo and other opposition leaders in the region who are critical against the administration.

Meanwhile, Lav Rogelito Daculla, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) acting assistant regional director, said they are still validating claims that the recently recovered cocaine in Gubat where similar to those earlier found in the waters off Camarines Norte, Sorsogon and Catanduanes and that they came from the same source.

He said, “Drug profiling process takes a while since we have limited capabilities in knowing the chemistry, the quality of the drugs, and where they were produced.”

Daculla said the drug samples taken from the cocaine found in Sorsogon would be submitted to a drug enforcement agency abroad for profiling. “The profiling outcome would determine if these substances found in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes came from one source or from another,” he added.

He said the agency has requested the Australia Federal Police and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency assist them in the profiling process.

In an earlier interview, PDEA Acting Regional Director Christian Frivaldo said historically cocaine are illegally produced in Mexico and Columbia where the recovered cocaine boxes may have come from.

Shabu, the poor man’s cocaine which is more popular in the country, on the other hand, may either come from Thailand, Vietnam, or China.

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