MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found probable cause to indict the consignee and alleged customs fixer, along with several other personalities, in the controversial P6.4-billion ‘shabu’ haul from China that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in May 2017 for smuggling and other violations of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
In a 26-page resolution, Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit, who conducted the preliminary investigation into the complaint filed by the BOC, recommended the indictment of EMT Trading proprietress Eirene Mae A. Tatad, alleged fixer Mark Ruben Taguba, businessman Chen Ju Long aka “Richard Tan” and “Richard Chen,” Fidel Anoche Dee, Chen I. Min, Jhu Ming Jhun, Li Guang Feng aka “Manny Li,” Dong Yi Shen aka “Kenneth Dong,” and several ‘John Does’ and ‘Jane Does’ for unlawful and prohibited importation, as well as misdeclaration, misclassification, and undervaluation in goods declaration.
The 604-kilogram ’shabu’ haul was recovered at the Hong Fei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela City on May 26, 2017. Chen is one of the owners of the company.
The illegal shipment was investigated by Congress, and led to the resignation of top BOC officials, including Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon.
In its resolution, the DOJ explained that the facts “would readily support the conclusion that all of the respondents in this case were interested in bringing into the country container no. MCLU6001881 which was loaded with dangerous drugs secretly packed inside five steel or metal cylinders each enclosed in five wooded crates.”
“While the relationship, transactions and participations between respondents appear to be compartmentalized, the circumstances nevertheless points towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful act i.e., smuggling or fraudulent importation of the subject shipment through conspiracy,” the resolution stated.
And while not all respondents prepared, signed, or filled out commercial or BOC entry forms and other documents in connection with the importation, the DOJ said they must all be held liable for the above-stated offenses “[t]here being a conspiracy” among them.
The DOJ added that the respondents received and facilitated the transportation of the "shabu" shipment to its final destination - the warehouse located in Valenzuela City.
The charge against respondents for violation of Section 1403 (making or attempting to make any entry of imported or exported goods by means of any false or fraudulent statement, document or practice or knowingly and willfully files any false or fraudulent claim for payment of drawback or refund of duties shall, for each act, be punished in accordance with the penalties prescribed in Section 1401) of the CMTA was dismissed for lack of probable cause, and forwarded to the office of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra for automatic review.
The resolution was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Mike Gudio, Jr., and Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon.
A separate case for importation of dangerous drugs, punishable under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, still in connection with the subject ‘shabu’ shipment is pending with the Manila Regional Trial Court.