The Philippine national police and counter-narcotics agency said Wednesday that they had arrested a suspected Chinese drug kingpin and seized a huge cache of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of more than 1.1 billion pesos (U.S. $20.3 million).
The illegal stash, weighing about 160 kilos, (351 pounds), was recovered during an undercover operation Tuesday in Valenzuela, a suburban city north of Manila, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Wilkins Villanueva said.
The suspects “sold the shabu to undercover law enforcement operatives,” Villanueva said in a statement, referring to crystal meth by its local name.
“Apart from the drug evidence, also seized from the two suspects were three mobile phones and identification cards.”
He identified the suspects as 32-year-old Tianzhu Lyu, from Fujian in China, and his companion, Meliza Villanueva, a 37-year-old Filipina.
Gen. Dionardo Carlos, chief of the Philippine National Police, said the operation included intelligence agents from the military and operatives from his department’s drug enforcement unit.
“The PNP vows to sustain with vigor anti-illegal drugs police operations with a greater focus on high-value targets engaged in trafficking and distribution of illegal drugs to help boost the government’s campaign for criminal justice,” Carlos told reporters.
In 2020, anti-drug personnel seized more than 800 kilos of crystal methamphetamine in Bulacan, a province north of Manila.
Tuesday’s haul was the biggest this year and came months after the International Criminal Court (ICC) in September approved a request by its former chief prosecutor to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings tied to the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.
Duterte, who took office in 2016, campaigned on a pledge to rid the Philippines of illegal drugs and drug addiction.
Since he took power, the police say about 8,000 suspected dealers and addicts have been killed in shootouts, although rights groups say the figure was understated, and that there could be anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 victims of the drug war.
Duterte has denied sanctioning those killings and said they could have been carried out by rival gangs to discredit the government. He has said that he would not allow ICC prosecutors into the country, and that if he were to go to prison, it should be ordered by a Filipino court.
BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated online news service.