(Republicaninformer.com)- Police in the Philippines on Wednesday seized over 500 kg of methamphetamine hidden in tea bags and arrested a suspected drug dealer from China, the Associated Press reported.
The seizure in the northern mountain resort city of Baguio has an estimated street value of $74 million, making it one of the largest seizures in recent years, according to Philippine officials.
The drug syndicate allegedly chose to hide the drugs in Baguio rather than Manila due to the ongoing drug crackdown in the capital region, according to officials.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who assumed office last summer, vowed to continue his predecessor’s crackdown on illegal drugs but said his focus would be on rehabilitating drug addicts.
Under his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, over 6,000 suspected drug dealers were killed in clashes with law enforcement, prompting alarm from Western governments, including the US, and sparking an investigation by the International Criminal Court in the Hague over possible crimes against humanity.
According to Philippine police, under President Marcos, there have been far fewer killings of suspected drug dealers. However, human rights groups continue to express concern about the killings under the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs. The groups have asked President Marcos to cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the killings during Duterte’s presidency.
After the International Criminal Court rejected an appeal from the Marcos government to stop the investigation, President Marcos said on Tuesday that his administration would cease all contact and communication with the ICC.
In 2019, after the ICC launched its preliminary investigation into the thousands killed under his anti-drug crackdowns, then-President Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the ICC’s founding treaty.
Duterte’s critics argued at the time that the move was his attempt to avoid accountability for the killings. However, the ICC prosecutor said the international court still has jurisdiction since the alleged crimes were committed while the Philippines was still a member state of the International Criminal Court.