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Philippine police seize drugs worth $30 million

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January 24, 2014 06:30 AM EST | AP

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police arrested four men and seized 1.3 billion pesos ($30 million) worth of methamphetamine on Friday in the second large drug bust in Manila in 10 days.

The men were in a van loaded with six wooden crates containing 272 kilograms (598 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine when they were intercepted by police, said Senior Superintendent Bartolome Tobias, head of the Philippine National Police anti-illegal drugs task force. The arrests followed a tip from an informant.

"Each gram of drug the police are able to remove from our communities is already something because we are able to reduce the amount of drugs poisoning our people," said Arturo Cacdac, chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

He said one of the four suspects was a bulk supplier of drugs for street dealers and had been under surveillance for two months. The man, however, denied knowing the crates contained drugs and said he was paid 70,000 pesos ($1,530) to bring the boxes to nearby Cavite province.

Last week, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested four Canadian men suspected of trafficking drugs from Mexico in separate raids on posh condominiums. Agents recovered 100 million pesos ($2.2 million pesos) worth of cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, which is similar to Ecstasy.

Tobias said police are investigating an "unholy alliance" between Mexico's Sinaloa cartel and Chinese drug syndicates operating in the Philippines.

"We have to move fast to nip this partnership in the bud," he said.

It was not immediately clear if Friday's seizure was related to last week's arrests.

Last year, Philippine authorities seized a record 4.6 billion pesos ($101.5 million) worth of crystal methamphetamine, seven times more than the combined amount over the previous four years, according Cacdac.

Another 5.3 billion pesos ($116.9 million) worth of other drugs and drug-making materials also were seized in 2013. More than 8,600 people, including 73 foreigners, were arrested on suspicion of drug possession and trafficking.