Philippine police seize vanload of drugs, arrest 5

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine antinarcotics agents seized about 400 kilograms (882 pounds) of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride and arrested five members of a syndicate Sunday in the largest haul of the illegal drug in the country so far this year, officials said.

Police Senior Superintendent Bartolome Tobias said five men were arrested while loading the drugs, concealed in two carton boxes and 22 bags, into a van in a residential enclave in Subic town in Zambales province, northwest of Manila.

If all the drugs turn out to be real methamphetamine hydrochloride, known locally as shabu, it will have a Manila street value of about 2 billion pesos ($46 million), according to police.

The Philippines continues to face an alarming drug problem despite efforts to disrupt major trafficking syndicates and dismantle clandestine labs. Corruption among law enforcers and officials and vast stretches of unpatrolled coastline make the country an attractive narcotics source and transshipment point.

Illegal drug production in the Philippines carries a maximum prison term of 40 years.

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