Three suspects supposedly belonging to a Mexican drug cartel operating in Batangas have been arrested, authorities said in a press briefing on Thursday.
Officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that they have also busted the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, after having confiscated roughly 80 kilos of shabu.
Worth P420 million, the shabu shipment was seized in a Lipa, Batangas farm.
Suspects will be charged for violating Section 11 of Republic Act 9165, also known as the Dangerous Drugs Law, an official said.
Seizure of shabu “shows that they are marketing [the drug]” in Asia, an official said during a briefing at the PNP headquarters in Quezon City.
“This confirms that the Mexicans are here,” an official said.
It was not clear why the Mexican cartel would have entered the Philippines. The national police chief, Director-General Alan Purisima, said the country’s strategic location and the difficulty of guarding the archipelago’s maritime borders made it easy to infiltrate.
The Mexican embassy in the Philippines declined to comment.
The Sinaloa cartel is reputed to be the largest source of illegal drugs to the United States.
Its main leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001. He is now America’s most wanted drug trafficker, as well as being considered by Forbes as the most powerful criminal on the planet.
El Chapo GuzmÃ¡n was captured in Guatemala on June 9, 1993, and extradited to Mexico and sentenced to 20 years and 9 months in prison for drug trafficking, criminal association and bribery charges. He was jailed in the maximum security La Palma (now Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 or ‘Altiplano’) prison. On November 22, 1995, he was transferred to the Puente Grande maximum security prison in Jalisco, after being convicted of three crimes: possession of firearms, drug trafficking and the murder of Cardinal Juan JesÃºs Posadas Ocampo (the charge would later be dismissed by another judge). He had been tried and sentenced inside the federal prison on the outskirts of Almoloya de JuÃ¡rez, Mexico State.
After a ruling by the Supreme Court of Mexico made it easier for extradition to occur between Mexico and the United States, GuzmÃ¡n bribed several guards to aid his escape. On January 19, 2001, Francisco “El Chito” Camberos Rivera, a prison guard, opened GuzmÃ¡n’s electronically operated cell door, where GuzmÃ¡n got in a laundry cart that Camberos rolled through several doors and eventually out the front door. He was then transported in the trunk of a car driven by Camberos out of the town. At a gas station, Camberos went inside, but when he came back, GuzmÃ¡n was gone on foot into the night. According to officials, 78 people have been implicated in his escape plan.
The police say GuzmÃ¡n carefully masterminded his escape plan, wielding influence over almost everyone in the prison, including the facility’s director. He allegedly had the prison guards on his payroll, smuggled contraband into the prison and received preferential treatment from the staff. In addition to the prison-employee accomplices, police in Jalisco were paid off to ensure he had at least 24 hours to get out of the state and stay ahead of the military manhunt. The story told to the guards being bribed was that JoaquÃn GuzmÃ¡n was smuggling gold out of the prison, ostensibly extracted from rock at the inmate workshop. The escape allegedly cost JoaquÃn $2.5 million.