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Customs reports banner year for anti-illegal drug campaign

Customs chief Rufino Biazon. Photo by Mike Gubat means BUSINESS

MANILA - The value of illegal drugs intercepted at the country's main airports in 2012 grew almost tenfold from the previous year to nearly half a billion pesos, a banner year for the government's anti-drug trafficking campaign.

In a statement, the Bureau of Customs said the record performance of the Task Force on Dangerous Drugs and Controlled Chemicals was due to "enhanced monitoring of airport arrivals."

The combined value of illegal drugs seized last year reached P465.9 million, a far cry from the P42.4 million in 2011. Last year’s drug haul was composed of 53.48 kilograms of shabu, 8.78 kilograms of cocaine, 33.9 kilograms of marijuana, as well as other prohibited drugs.

Rizalinda Parong, executive director of Customs' Task Force on Dangerous Drugs, said syndicates are now opting to import finished products of dangerous drugs instead of cooking it locally because of tighter security at the country's ports of entry.

"Because laboratory equipment and chemicals used for the manufacture of illegal drugs can no longer pass through customs ports… drug syndicates have resorted to using drug mules for their illegal trade through the airports," Parong said.

Customs said 17 drug mules were nabbed at the country's airports last year.

Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, a member of the Liberal Party who lost in the 2012 senatorial elections, took over the post in 2011 from Angelito Alvarez after 200 containers disappeared while being shipped from Manila to Batangas.