Two Hongkongers sought by police after further drug raids in Manila
Philippine anti-drugs police are searching for two Hongkongers after two Ice factories were found abandoned in the same upmarket community where five Hongkongers were arrested last week.
Jose Gutierrez, executive director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), said Friday night's raid on two properties in Ayala, Alabang Village, were the result of tip-offs from residents following an earlier raid on a house on January 6.
Gutierrez said: 'There were those who called us up and even sent text messages. They were suspicious of Chinese nationals seen in those two other houses.
'We are co-ordinating with the Bureau of Immigration to stop these people from getting out of the country, if they are still here.'
He said he strongly believed the two clandestine labs were connected to the one raided a week earlier.
Though Gutierrez would not name the latest suspects, Pedrito Magsino, PDEA's director for Metropolitan Manila, said they were looking for a 'Man Lat' and a 'Mr Wong', who had paid for year-long leases for the buildings on Kanlaon Street and in Country Club Drive. They had photos of both men, he said.
PDEA spokeswoman Evangeline Almenario said the first raid 'must have prompted the people operating the two clandestine laboratories to abandon base.'
At both houses, police found chemicals in drums and equipment for making methamphetamine hydrochloride. At the house on Kanlaon Street, they also found more than 2kg of Ice with an estimated street value of 10 million pesos (HK$1.8 million), as well as several black garbage bags filled with empty blister packs of the nasal decongestant Novahis-D.
Gutierrez speculated that the Ice manufacturers may been extracting ephedrine - an ingredient in Ice - from the tablets to save them smuggling it into the country.
'This [method of obtaining ephedrine from medicine] is very common in Thailand and Korea,' Gutierrez said, 'but this was the first time I saw it here.'
Meanwhile, the PDEA has identified Ken Ming Chao, 49, alias Lam Tse-kin, as the man leasing the house raided a week ago on Acacia Avenue. The other four arrested were his older brother, Lam Ka-chun, 51, twins Choi Yiu-kit and Choi Yiu-chun, both 33, and Kwok Chi-keung, 42.
The identification of all five suspects as Hong Kong nationals was confirmed through their passports. They have since been indicted.
The discovery of Ice factories alongside mansions belonging to the rich has caused much alarm as well as embarrassment. The first house raided turned out to be property that was being rented out by the wealthy Madrigal clan.
The proportion of illegal drug users in the Philippines whose drug of choice is Ice, or methamphetamine hydrochloride