BOC issues hold departure order on Vietnamese vessel for illegal importation

January 28, 2010 10:47 pm 

BACOLOD CITY, Jan. 28 – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) Regional Office 6 has issued a hold departure order on the vessel MV Trai Thien 66 from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam after it was suspected to have transported illegal drugs together with the imported rice allocation supposedly of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Negros Occidental.

The vessel, skippered by Bul Van Chin, arrived here last Friday.

The BOC, in issuing the hold departure order Thursday to the Vietnamese vessel which has a registered shipping agent identified to be Romeo Conlu, Jr. has cited violation of the Tariff and Customs Code.

Meanwhile, Atty. Ronnie Delicana of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), in an interview, said that the Bureau of Customs in coordination with them, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police tried to check on the cargo of the Vietnamese vessel last night on the suspicion that there were some illegal substances with the NFA rice.

He said they found out that there were indeed some dubious sacks containing white crystalline substance believed to be N-methlyephedrine, which is a precursor for the manufacture of metamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu". Of the total 77,000 sacks of NFA imported rice, the PDEA was able to check 51 sacks.

Delicana said that the substances they were able to get were sent to their Manila laboratory for study. The result could be released Thursday.

He further said that on board the Vietnamese vessel anchored at the Bredco Port in Bacolod City are right now 20 crew members who are under investigation.

If this would turn out positive, this will be among the biggest seizures of the PDEA of illegal drugs in the country, Delicana said.

There are right now 20 PDEA agents waiting on standby for any legal action also at the port vicinity.

The BOC coordinated with the PDEA and other law enforcers after a Customs employee noticed that the other sacks being unloaded from the Vietnamese vessel when carried by a porter "moved" differently compared to those bags containing rice.

The BOC, Philippine Coast Guard, PNP, and the PDEA today likewise conducted search on the three warehouses where the NFA rice were brought. These warehouses were ordered closed pending completion of investigation, while the bags still in the port were withheld.

The PDEA, meanwhile, is preparing for the filing of violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 once the PDEA laboratory in Manila confirms the seized substance to be shabu. (PNA) LAP/AJP/GMDelaCruz/vlo

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