MANILA, Philippines - For the third time in less than a month, three suspected couriers of an African drug syndicate was nabbed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with shabu in their luggage, officials said yesterday.
Customs collector Teresita Roque said Guinea national Aisha Camara, 28, who is six months pregnant, had a roundabout way of going to Philippines: from Guinea, she went to Casablanca, then to Abu Dhabi, arriving at the NAIA on an Etihad Airways flight last March 11 with 2.7 kilos of shabu.
Meanwhile, Customs task force on dangerous drugs and controlled chemicals, headed by Sherwin Andrada, are investigating a Kenyan couple, Joseph Kyeremateng and Solemana Hamshaww, who arrived on board an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi yesterday afternoon. Andrada said all four pieces of the couple’s luggage contained shabu.
Camara was denied entry by Bureau of Immigration’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) when she was unable to explain her purpose in coming to Manila.
The TCEU said Camara has no sponsor and does not know anyone in the Philippines. She said she came to the Philippines to seek medical attention for her swollen feet and to know her baby’s gender, but could not present any medical appointment and does not know any hospital in the country, the TCEU said.
Since there was no available seat on the next flight back to Abu Dhabi, the TCEU brought Camara to the Sampaguita lounge to wait for the next available flight.
On Monday night, Camara said she was bleeding and needed to get to a hospital. She was brought to the NAIA clinic, which recommended that she be brought to a hospital.
TCEU personnel suggested that Camara’s luggage go through Customs examination before she is allowed to leave the airport.
The shabu, with a street value of around P17 million, was found sandwiched between layers of thin plastic as wide as the luggage bottom, made to appear like the suitcase’s lining.
Camara denied knowing about the shabu, saying a man at the Guinea airport, knowing that she is pregnant, offered to check in her luggage and clear her passport at the check-in counter.
Airport officials noted similarities in the manner the shabu was hidden in Camara’s luggage to two alleged couriers arrested at NAIA recently.
Last Feb. 27, Kenyan Lina Aching Noah was caught bringing in 9.3 kilos of shabu with an estimated street value of P45 million.
On March 3, Ugandan Josephine Balikuddembe, 54, was caught with 4.5 kilos of shabu, valued at P22.5 million. She came from Mali, then went to Dubai before coming to Manila.– With Reinir Padua - By Rudy Santos