SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Philippine authorities last week seized more than 600 kg of methamphetamines in the largest such bust since China launched a crackdown on drug-smuggling in cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation, Chinese customs said on Monday.
China is the main source of methamphetamine consumed in the Philippines, which is caught in the throes of a brutal war on drugs waged by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Two people arrested in a May 12 raid on suspected smugglers told Chinese authorities they hid the drugs in five printing machines to smuggle them into the Philippines, customs officials in the coastal city of Xiamen said.
Tipped off by their Chinese counterparts, Philippine officials seized 604 kilograms (1,332 lb) of methamphetamine on May 26, Xiamen Customs said on its website.
“According to the Philippines side, this case is the largest drug trafficking bust made by the Philippines since China and the Philippines launched cooperation against cross-border drug smuggling,” the Xiamen officials said in the statement.
“It shows China’s determination to crack down on drug smuggling.”
The Philippines’ Bureau of Customs said in a statement issued last Saturday that it had acted on the intelligence from Chinese customs to seize the drugs in Valenzuela City, about 14 kilometres north of the country’s capital of Manila.
It valued the haul at 6.4 billion pesos.
“Our level of effective information-sharing with China Customs Cooperation sends a strong warning to all those involved in the drugs trade,” said Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
The two nations agreed during Duterte’s visit to China last October to strengthen cooperation in battling illicit drugs.
Duterte defended Beijing last year after a Reuters report quoted Philippine drug enforcement officials as saying China had done little over the years to staunch the flow of meth and its precursor chemicals.
Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional Reporting by Karen Lema in MANILA; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Peter Graff