MANILA, Thursday 1 July 2010 (AFP) - Police said Thursday they had confiscated over three million dollars' worth of cocaine after a Chinese ship dumped a huge cache of the illegal drug in Philippine waters.
Thirty-three bricks of cocaine, estimated to be worth 165 million pesos (3.56 million dollars), were seized and six people arrested in several raids this week on the central Philippine island of Samar, a police statement said.
This operation was ordered... after reports were gathered that substantial amounts of cocaine were still in the hands of local citizens, especially those in the coastal areas of Samar, the statement said.
The King Yue I, a Chinese vessel, was transporting a tonne of cocaine from South America to Hong Kong in December but the crew dumped it into the sea when it learned the ship was being tracked by US authorities, the government said.
Since then, bricks of cocaine have been recovered by local fishermen and have washed up on Samar's beaches.
Despite warnings that they could face life imprisonment for drug possession, many local residents have not turned in the cocaine bricks and some of the bricks have even surfaced in drug busts in Manila.
More than 200 kilos of cocaine were earlier recovered by law-enforcers in Samar, either turned in or seized in police raids.
Some of the cocaine recovered in this week's raids was found in sting operations against buyers, while other bricks were found in homes following tip-offs from local residents.
The Philippines is considered a major hub for illegal drugs in Southeast Asia, with crime syndicates known to corrupt politicians by funding their campaigns.