Huge haul of cocaine may have been jettisoned by stricken cargo vessel

The haul of cocaine. Photo issued by the PDEA

A huge haul of cocaine worth $2.5 million that washed up on a Philippine beach could have been jettisoned by a foundering ship.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is investigating the possible involvement of a Taiwanese vessel in the dumping of 24 kilograms (53 pounds) of the drug which washed up in Matnog, Sorsogon province, its regional director said today (Saturday, January 6).

Christian Frivaldo said they were confirming reports that the cocaine found at the shorelines of the town’s Barangay Calintaan could have come from the Jin Ming16, which according to the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) is under its ‘watch list’ for suspected involvement in illegal activities.

The cargo vessel was hit by huge waves amid heavy weather on Tuesday, a day before the cocaine, valued at 125 million pesos, was discovered.

According to Coconuts Manila, the officers were notified about the drugs after a fisherman named Robert Galvez found a blue container floating by the shore at about 5.30am in Juag Lagoon, a marine sanctuary and tourist spot.

Nine Chinese, and Taiwanese crewmen are now in the custody of the local after they were rescued from the damaged ship.

“They are under investigation. We are checking their vessel to see if there is additional evidence inside. But it is difficult because it is half-submerged,” Frivaldo added.

“At the moment, we are looking at the possibility that a nearly sunken vessel is responsible for the dumping of the recovered cocaine.

“Based on the TECO report, the ship was involved in illegal activities, considering that it was not detected by our naval authorities by intentionally turning off its positioning system to evade detection,” Frivaldo said.

“No local contacts of this ship were established or identified as of the moment,” he added.

Frivaldo said they had been coordinating with other foreign embassies and offices since TECO responded to their questions about the vessel yesterday.

Jin Ming16 made a distress call when it tilted in heavy seas off the coast of Northern Samar province.