Philippines probing drug link to Mexican cartel

AP News
Posted: Dec 27, 2013 7:57 AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government is investigating how a Mexican drug cartel may have entered the country after police seized a large cache of high-grade crystal methamphetamine intended for the local market, officials said Friday.

"Good information sharing" among Filipino law enforcers led to the Christmas Day raid on an alleged drug warehouse inside a ranch in Lipa City south of Manila, said Abigal Valte, a spokeswoman for President Benigno Aquino III.

Police seized 84 kilograms (185 pounds) of crystal meth, known locally as "shabu," worth around 420 million pesos ($9.4 million).

National police chief Alan Purisima said a Chinese-Filipino who was among three people arrested at the ranch has alleged links to Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel. The two others who were arrested were a Filipino man and his wife, identified as caretakers. The ranch where the drugs were found was leased by an American citizen, also with alleged cartel links.

The American, who is a native of the Philippines, was believed to have returned to the United States, Purisima said.

Two other suspects, both Mexicans, are at large. Purisima said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration helped identify the suspects.

Valte said part of the investigation will be to determine how the suspects were able to enter the country and whether there were lapses by the immigration bureau.

"We don't want our country to be a haven for illegal drugs," she said.

Police did not disclose the source of the drugs.

Purisima said investigators believe the Mexican cartel may be getting help from Chinese drug traffickers in order to operate in the Philippines.

"We can see that they are just starting. We need to take action so they cannot go further in," he told reporters.