Published: Tue, November 20, 2012
By Miguel Ortilla
The criminal-minded, indeed, have rich imaginations.
In a recently exposed modus operandi, illegal-drug smugglers use ordinary-looking bottles of mineral water. But twist the cap and you'll find the bottle splits in half. In between is a space big enough to conceal small contraband items, like illegal drugs.
One video of the bottle, allegedly coming from the United States Customs and Border Protection Office, has been circulating on Facebook.
It was posted online to warn and inform the public, especially in airports, not to accept or help anyone carry bottles or any other objects.
Director Derrick Carreon, spokesman of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), said drug enforcement officials have seen the video and are well aware
of this smuggling technique and are now keeping an eye against attempts to use the modus operandi.
"The policy stands: you can only purchase bottles after pre-departure procedures, limited to concessionaires [at the airport]," Carreon said. "It wont be that easy for anybody to worm in mga ganyang products sa mga [such products in] airports, especially into the airplanes."
As of 2012, PDEA has recorded 741 Filipinos who have been arrested worldwide on drug courier allegations.
The victims were mostly women, lured into carrying baggage for other passengers, not knowing such practice of kindness can cost them their life.
Senior Superintendent Prudencio Tom Banas, chief of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force of the Philippine National Police, gave this warning: "Para sa kababayan natin: Iwasan magamit ng sindikato, na magiging courier. Marami na nahuli sa ibang nasyon, and the problem there is pag courier ka, the sentence is death penalty [To our countrymen. Avoid being used by syndicates by being couriers. So many have been caught in other countries, and the problem there is, if you're a courier, the sentence is the death penalty.]"
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