Drug syndicates exploit online selling platforms and transport network services (TNVS) for their illegal drug trade, a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said on Monday.
“This pandemic may have caused these drug personalities to elevate and take advantage of online platforms,” said PDEA agent Aida Ferolino at a House hearing on the sale of drugs online.
Ferolino added drug syndicates’ shift from face-to-face to digital means “is a huge challenge to PDEA and other law enforcement agencies.”
“We all know that drug syndicates would always do anything to succeed in their illegal drug activities and under the new normal,” she said.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, PDEA already arrested drug traders “who facilitated drug transactions through online platforms or e-commerce platforms,” Ferolino said.
She said the suspects posted drug paraphernalia on an e-commerce platform, which prompted the PDEA to conduct buy-bust operations. PDEA already conducted three such missions, she added.
PDEA official: Drug syndicates go online selling
Ferolino revealed the online shopping platform Lazada had also turned over to PDEA 3.6 kilos of marijuana.
“They also use TNVS to transport their illegal drug activities. We have arrested two drug personalities who use a transport service to deliver their packages,” she said.
Rep. Wes Gatchalian of Valenzuela City, chair of the House committee on trade and industry, said online platforms should “exercise due diligence with regards to its merchants” and should “not pass off the responsibility to law enforcement agencies to run after people who are behind these online illegal activities.”
Gatchalian said that on September 18, PDEA confiscated P12,000 in marijuana, 12 ecstasy tablets worth P40,000, a capsule of “Fly High” party drug worth P2,500, and 11 bottles of liquid ecstasy worth P426,000 from online platforms.
According to Gatchalian, arrested drug suspects said some drug paraphernalia, like water pipes and glass tooters, were brought from the country’s two leading online shopping sites.
The solon said the PDEA had already requested these shopping sites’ administrators to delete all listings of drug paraphernalia.