Cocaine blocks may have floated from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands – PNP Chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 27) — The cocaine haul from the country's eastern seaboard may have drifted from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief said Wednesday.

Director General Oscar Albayalde said 500 kilograms of cocaine were found on the shores of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands sometime in September 2018, adding these were packed similarly as the blocks recovered in the country's waters. He said this information was obtained in coordination with the Australian police who assisted Solomon Island officials during their investigation. 

"Way back in September meron nakuha na around 500 kilograms of cocaine, at doon sa Solomon Islands meron silang narecover through the help of the Australian federal police na the same package, sometime September, so we think na ito ay naanod talaga ito sa atin," Albayalde told reporters.  

[Translation: Way back in September they found around 500 kilograms of cocaine on the Solomon Islands through the help of the Australian federal police, with the same packaging, so we think these may have drifted to us.]

"Sometime June to September meron din narecover na [they also recovered] the same package of cocaine sa [in] Papua New Guinea," he added. 

Since February 10, police have found nearly 165 kilograms of cocaine in a number of coastal villages with an estimated value of over ₱871 million.

Albayalde said smugglers may have disposed of the bricks, which may have floated from the Solomon Islands towards the Philippines, when they evaded pursuit by authorities. The Solomon Islands are around 4,290 kilometers away from the country or six hours away by plane. Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea is more than 3,200 kilometers away with an air travel time of over five hours. 

"Pwedeng dinump 'yung iba (drugs) kasi hinabol 'yan ng Papua New Guinea navy so allegedly, supposed to be, para dumaan 'yung kanilang barko, nagcamp sila," Albayalde said. 

[Translation: They may have dumped the drugs because they were being pursued by the Papua New Guinea navy so allegedly, they set up camp to let their boats pass.]

He said the drugs may have been intended for Australia.

""Ang posibilidad nito ay [It is possibility that it was] for delivery ito sa [in] Australia. That's a big possibility kasi [because] according to the Australia police medyo maganda ang value market [it has a good market], even the market value ng cocaine doon sa lugar nila [in their area]," Albayalde said.

The PNP chief disclosed the theory after signing a deal with Australian and British officials against internet crimes on children. 

Albayalde said the blocks were not intended for the Philippines as there is no local market for cocaine. 

He added the packages appeared to have been afloat for some time due to some sea growth. 

Albayalde said they will be submitting drug samples to Australian officials to determine the drug origin. 

""Hindi maassure kung saan nanggaling but we will give specimen sa ating counterparts sa Australia kasi sabi nila they can determine dahil itong cocaine ay parang may DNA din, may signature kung saan gawa," he said.

[Translation: We cannot assure where these came from but we will give specimen to our counterparts in Australia because they can determine it since cocaine has a DNA or signature that indicates its origin.]

Albayalde added they are still looking into other possibilities such as using the blocks to distract authorities from other illegal drug operations.