Smuggling, drug raps filed vs 2 traders, broker

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2012 12:14 PM | Updated as of Feb 23 2012 08:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Traders and the customs broker of alleged illegal drugs, precursor chemicals and laboratory equipment for the manufacturing of "ecstacy" seized two months ago by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) were formally charged at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday morning.

At a news conference, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said respondents Wilfredo Armario Bitancor, owner of W.A. Bitancor trading company; his broker Franco Robiso Celso; and trader Marvin Simon B. Sia were charged for violation of the Tariffs and Customs Code and the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Biazon said Bitancor's shipment of 160 drums of sulfuric acid and N-butyl acetate, 445 bags of caustic soda, oxychem, and hypochloride solutions and laboratory equipment and materials worth P38 million contained in seven 20-footer vans were seized by operatives from the BOC Intelligence and Enforcement Group in December.

Meanwhile, Sia's shipment of nine packages of metamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and piperonal, a precursor for "ecstacy," worth P17.6 million was seized in January, according to Biazon. The shipment was allegedly misdeclared as "sodium tungstate."

"The increasing number of seizures of big volumes of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals show the extent of drug abuse and the illegal drug trade in the country," Biazon said.

Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim, head of the Intelligence and Enforcement Group stressed that illegal drugs and its precursors are among the main concerns of customs operatives when investigating suspicious shipments.