Nearly a kilo of shabu which was found inside an unclaimed backpack at a baggage counter of a mall in Tagbilaran City has been turned over to the police, following what authorities believed to have been a botched drug transaction.
Tagbilaran City police chief Lieutenant Col. Oscar Boyles on Friday night said that the suspected drug stash which was estimated to be worth P6.7 million was turned over by security personnel of Plaza Marcela to the Tagbilaran City Police Station on November 22.
However, the substance was only confirmed to be methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu by the crime laboratory of the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) headquarters at Camp Francisco Dagohoy on November 27.
Authorities have yet to identify the person who left the plastic-covered shabu as police reported that there were no closed-circuit television cameras mounted near the mall’s baggage counter.
Boyles said that mall policy directs personnel to surrender to their security office baggage unclaimed for over 24 hours.
It was noted that the bag was kept at the security office for 15 days before mall authorities decided to check its contents for security purposes, leading to the discovery of the contraband on November 22. They then contacted the police, who initially thought that the substance was not shabu as it was loosely sealed.
“Di akalain ng ating mga operatiba na ayun ay shabu kasi ang shabu pang karaniwan di dapat yan sisingaw, parang di shabu kasi nakapulupot lang at parang tinali lang, hindi naka selyo talaga,” said Boyles.
According to Boyles, the incident may have been a failed drug transaction.
“Ginawa nilang paraan para di sila ma-detect. Doon nila iiwan ang [shabu] at doon e-claim ng iba. Siguro di na na-claim kasi natakot,” said Boyles.
The city police chief noted that both uniformed and plainclothes police officers constantly patrol the mall’s vicinity, possibly deterring the buyer from picking up the illegal drugs.
Police investigators suspected that drug traders have been using mall baggage counters as drop-off and pick-up points for shabu, allowing them to transact without direct contact between suppliers and dealers.
It has earlier been noted that arrested drug personalities were claiming that they do not know or have not seen their drug suppliers or even their couriers.
According to Boyles, BPPO director Col. Jonathan Cabal has ordered the Provincial Intelligence Branch to conduct a follow-up probe to determine the source of the multi-million drug stash.
“Patuloy yung aming imbestigasyon baka makakuha tayo ng ibang impormasyon. Pati yung aming provincial director nagpa-conduct ng investigation diyan,” he said.
The seized shabu meanwhile remained under the custody of the BPPO crime lab.