By Jun Ramirez and Chito Chavez
Known in Colombia as “The Swallower,” 67-year-old drug mule Alberto Pedraza Quijano was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and presented to media with the 79 rubber pellets containing suspected cocaine that he had in his stomach when he arrived Sunday.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Spokesman Derrick Arnold Carreon said the arrest of the Colombian drug mule, who had swallowed the sausage-shaped cases containing a total of P8.9 million worth of cocaine before boarding his flight to Manila, was made possible through a tip from the United States Homeland Security Investigation.
At the same time, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Jaime Morente lauded the coordinated participation of the Drug Interdiction Task Group (DITG) in the successful interception and arrest of Quijano at NAIA Terminal 3 at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
The DITG, formed last year, is composed of the PDEA, the BI, the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police’s Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP), the NAIA Airport Police, and the Office of Transportation Security (OTS).
The US Homeland Security informed the BI about Quijano’s impending arrival via Emirates Airlines flight EK332 from Dubai Sunday afternoon, said Morente. He described Quijano as a frequent flier to the Philippines.
It was learned that the DITG team did not immediately arrest Quijao because he was wearing an ID card that showed he was member of a foundation.
When his identification was verified, he was accosted. It was his third trip to the country, records showed.
Carreon said that after Quijano’s arrest, he defecated the 79 pieces of elongated rubber pellets with suspected cocaine weighing a total of 1.185 kilograms.
Law enforcement agencies are currently verifying reports that Quijano was imprisoned in the United States due to drugs-related charges.
Authorities are conducting an investigation to identify Quijano’s contact in the Philippines who only gets in touch with him upon his arrival at the airport to give him instructions. His communications gadgets have been seized by investigators.
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