THE Chinese-run Golden Triangle syndicate might be behind the P802.4 million worth of crystal meth or shabu seized at a townhouse in Quezon City on Tuesday, the government’s chief anti-narcotics officer said on Wednesday.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino said this was their initial assessment of the 118 kilos of shabu confiscated from Chinese national Zhang Yun Quan during a buy-bust operation at his rented apartment in the village of Sienna.

The suspect is facing drug trafficking charges under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

The manner by which the drugs were packed suggested the involvement of the international drug ring based in China and Hong Kong, Mr. Aquino said.

Many of the drugs had come from China up to 2017 but strict Chinese laws against illegal drugs forced drug syndicates to outsource production, PDEA said last month.

The Golden Triangle drug syndicate, which operates along the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, has become the biggest distributor of illegal drugs in Southeast Asia.

“The shabu is packed in green tea bags labelled as Guan Yin Wang,” he said in a mobile-phone message. “This is a trademark being used by the Golden Triangle international drug syndicate.”

But the anti-drug agency was still gathering evidence that would directly link the Golden Triangle drug ring to the confiscated drugs, Mr. Aquino said.

“We still need to conduct backtracking investigation to determine the confirmed source of the drugs,” he said.

PDEA has suspected the international drug ring to be the source of drugs previously smuggled into the country, including P1.9 billion worth of shabu seized in a warehouse in Cavite in February.

Mr. Aquino said they were verifying if Mr. Zhang is the same person included in the list of people who smuggled P2.4 billion worth of crystal meth placed inside magnetic lifters that were intercepted at the Manila International Container Port in 2018.

The initial result of their probe revealed that Zhang was not the same Zhang Quan tagged in the shipment at the Manila port, but Mr. Aquino said they were still validating evidence. — Emmanuel Tupas, Philippine Star