Authorities Seize Half-Ton Of Drugs Hidden In Tea Bags In The Philippines

(Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

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Authorities in the Philippines seized more than a half-ton of suspected methamphetamine hidden in 500 tea bags Wednesday, the largest such drug bust in years, according to officials.

The seizure, worth an estimated 4 billion pesos ($74 million USD), occurred in the popular tourist destination of Baguio, nestled in the mountains on Luzon Island, according to the Associated Press. In addition to the drugs, locally known as shabu, authorities nabbed a suspected drug dealer believed to be a Chinese national, the outlet stated. (RELATED: 200 Pounds Of Meth Seized In History-Making Bust In West Virginia)

In Jan. 2020, authorities seized an estimated $68 million worth of shabu outside of the capital city of Manila, also concealed in tea bags, as reported by the Philippine Star at the time. Due to the packaging, authorities deduced the drugs had come from the Golden Triangle drug syndicate,a drug ring based in China and Hong Kong with operations in Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, the outlet reported.

Authorities believe that the drug syndicate is now operating in Baguio and not Manila due to an ongoing anti-drugs crackdown in the capital region begun by former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and continuing under current president Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the AP reported.

Duterte was heavy-handed in his approach with drug dealers, sparking an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation after more than 6,000 impoverished drug dealers were reportedly killed in confrontations with law enforcement officers.

Marcos, who took office in June, promised to approach the country’s drug problem in a different way, focusing on rehabilitating addicts, rather than harshly punishing them. Human rights officials, however, have claimed that police are still killing suspected drug users in the country “with impunity,”according to Human Rights Watch.