Wednesday, July 26, 2017

War on Drugs: No End in Sight by Erick San Juan

War on Drugs: No End in Sight by Erick San Juan


The war on drugs is very much on the table in the present administration’s future goals just like in the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rody Duterte. Like what PRRD has been emphasizing, that the illegal drug flourished during the past administrations and international drug trafficking is very much active due to the advance technology via the internet.

Given the fast electronic money transfer, undetected, and using various ways of transporting illegal drugs across borders and continents, winning the war against this menace is farfetched. More cooperation from other countries near and far, using the latest technology on how to catch the drug traffickers are very much needed. New out of the box strategies and policy should be the immediate agenda of our national security to preempt other nations agenda of like 'Greek bearing gifts' and a perceived involvement in indirect 'state sponsored' narco operation.

After the self-imposed deadline of the Philippine National Police to end the drug problem in December 2016, the current leadership told the nation that the drug problem is so enormous and that they needed more time and resources. But the hanging question remains, mostly from the netizens (and ordinary people sans the internet), where are the ‘big fish’ and the so-called Chinese drug lords?  Who are the importers of billions of Shabu that even passes the customs Greenlane caught unnoticed? It’s always the petty drug users and pushers ‘in slippers’ that are caught and presented in the media (if they are still alive).

From “Meth gangs of China play star role in Philippines drug crisis” by John Chalmers published @reuters : The arrest of Hong, who has pleaded not guilty, added to the ranks of Chinese nationals seized in the Philippines on narcotics charges. Of 77 foreign nationals arrested for meth-related drug offenses between January 2015 and mid-August 2016, nearly two-thirds were mainland Chinese and almost a quarter were Taiwanese or Hong Kong residents, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Remember Lim Seng, the mainland Chinese chemist for opium operation branded by Marcos as drug lord whose real boss was Siochi, a Binondo based drug lord and money launderer, friends of top level people during FM time as per record of CANU( Constabulary Anti-Narcotics Unit). The pattern of operation was just modified but the 'signature' is still there. Known in the trade as “cooks” and “chemists,” meth production experts are flown into the Philippines from Greater China by drug syndicates to work at labs like the one caught at Mount Arayat. Thanks to foreign agents. China isn’t only a source of meth expertise – it is also the biggest source of the meth and of the precursor chemicals used to produce the synthetic drug that are being smuggled into the Philippines, especially via Sulu and other parts of the country, according to local drug enforcement officials.

“It’s safe to say that the majority of the meth we have comes from China,” said PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon.

China’s dominant role in the Philippine meth trade has not dissuaded President Duterte from cozying up to Beijing, even as he declares drugs to be his country’s greatest scourge. Duterte is waging a brutal anti-narcotics campaign that has killed more than 2,000 people and led to the arrest of more than 38,000. Police are investigating some 3,000 more deaths.”

And yet President Duterte announced the intention of China to help in the war against drugs. Duh?

Comes the Chinese-sponsored One Belt One Road initiative. Could this be another soft power op to take the world for a ride? Just asking.

But what is in stake for the nations in the OBOR?

“China’s planned pan-Asia railway network, reaching from Kunming in the north to Singapore in the south, is a signature project in Beijing’s One Belt One Road (Obor) initiative.

The economic benefits, if the 3,900 km network connecting all mainland Southeast Asian states with the Middle Kingdom goes forth as planned, could be enormous. There may also be troublesome aspects to countenance too, however: namely an increase in cross-border drug trafficking.

Infrastructure upgrades facilitate the exchange of people, goods, and culture. Yet they can also empower criminals seeking easier and speedier access to new destinations. Transporting illicit drugs via high-speed rail is nothing new.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail line that runs the length of the island’s west coast is an established pipeline for drug runners. In China, arrests of drug traffickers on its high-speed rail system are not uncommon.

One of the latest and most curious cases involved a Chinese smuggler returning from Myanmar with a batch of hollowed-out dragon fruits containing 1,031.28 grams of methamphetamine tablets.

The planned network is currently only moving ahead on the central sections connecting Kunming, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, with regional geopolitics stalling the eastern and western routes. Given its reach, this line is the most crucial, however.

The country that stands to benefit most is the landlocked, impoverished nation of Laos. An upland nation of 6.5 million people, currently, it has a very meager railway. With the central line in place, its leaders hope to make it a land-linked regional transit center.

Construction officially commenced in December 2016 for the Laotian portion of the line. Running from the China-Laos border to the capital, Vientiane, the route’s total length is 414 km, with bridges and tunnels comprising 62% of a line that traverses rough mountainous terrain.

International narcotics intelligence believe that High-speed rail suits individual drug runners perfectly, with passengers typically allowed 40 kg of luggage per person. At present, traveling from northern Laos to Bangkok takes close to 30 hours by automobile, and even longer during the rainy season. The Luang Namtha to Vientiane drive can be exceptionally draining due to the terrain. But with high-speed rail, a run from northern Laos to Bangkok will easily be reduced to a comfortable five to seven hours.

Laos is the focus here because it is the starting point of the Southeast Asian drug trade. The recent arrests of prominent Laotian drug lords confirmed the rising status of Laotian nationals as leader players in the regional trafficking web.

Alarmingly, the distribution network of Laotian drug lord Xaysana Keopimpha, mapped by the Thai Narcotic Suppression Bureau, followed almost the exact route of the central line. Drugs purchased from jungle depots near Laos’ border with Myanmar were then transported down to Vientiane before crossing into northeastern Thailand, Bangkok, and onward to the entire region. (Source: Is China’s pan-Asia rail network a drug smuggler’s dream? By By Zi Yang, 6/23/17 @atimes)

Is this the prize we have to pay to be linked in the rail system that will bring about more drugs and more deaths?  In the end, who benefits?

 Unsolicited advice to President Duterte is to catch and jail the big fishes, the main source of drugs. Dont be blackmailed by some people pretending to be your friends. Rumor mill especially in the diplomatic circle is full of innuendos as to who are the brains not only of the drug trade but basically all illegal trade interconnecting with top honchos in the government service. If not addressed immediately, there will always be a repeat of history on how leaders fall and there will be no end in sight against his war on drugs and could even backfire when the family of aggrieved lowly users-pushers will file a class suit in the near future...

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