US tip led to cocaine bust
A tip from American authorities has led to the arrest of a suspected Filipino drug mule attempting to smuggle in an estimated 4.4 kilos of cocaine, in what the US Embassy in Manila said on Wednesday was a “great example of cooperation.”
The suspect, identified as 22-year-old student Jonjon Villamin Jr. was arrested by agents of the Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency upon arriving at a Manila airport from Dubai last Sunday.
Filipino agents followed Villamin as he went to the carousel to get his check-in baggage, after which they accosted the suspect and invited him for questioning at the Customs office.
Villamin denied knowing that he had cocaine in his luggage, saying it was given to him by a Brazilian friend who promised to call and instruct him where to bring the luggage upon his arrival in Manila. Drug trafficking is punishable by life imprisonment.
“We are especially pleased that information from the US Embassy’s Drug Enforcement Administration Office was instrumental in making this arrest, a testament to our longstanding bilateral counternarcotics and law enforcement coordination,” the embassy said in a statement.
Embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina said the arrest was a “great example of cooperation.”
At the 4th Asean-US
Summit held in Laos last month, the Philippines assured the delegates that the trade in illicit and illegal drugs threatens to derail the advance of growing economies.
“It tears the social fabric, breeds corruption in the highest levels of government and debases human dignity. It is a complex problem whose main actors do not recognize borders,” read a Philippine statement during the summit.
It said the Philippines welcomed continued drug interdiction cooperation with the United States, and looked forward to intensifying efforts against drug syndicates and their distribution networks.
News of the arrest comes amid President Duterte’s fresh warnings he would cut ties with the United States.
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