Five Hongkongers, including twins, were arrested in a predawn raid on an Ice factory yesterday inside an upmarket gated complex in suburban Manila.
The men, who had been under surveillance for almost a year, were apparently caught off-guard when agents swooped at 4.30am, with one suspect trying to run away and another jumping into a creek.
The lab had high-quality equipment capable of churning out 10kg of Ice every three days.
Agents found raw ingredients used to make the drug and, according to ABS-CBN News, authorities have initially estimated the value of the haul at about one billion pesos (HK$175 million). A spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Agency, Evangeline Almenario, described the house in the south of Manila the gang was renting for 260,000 pesos (HK$46,000) a month as an ideal Ice factory. Located in a guarded community in Ayala Alabang village, the house sat secluded at the bottom of a hill on a one-hectare property that was itself surrounded by a tall gate and fence. There were two other structures on the property the gang had used for storage.
Almenario identified the male suspects as twins Choi Yiu-kit and Choi Yiu-chun, 33; Ken Ming Chao, 49; his brother Lam Ka-chun, 51; and Kwok Chi-keung, 42.
No firearms were found at the scene, probably because the suspects relied on the protection of the community's guards, she said.
Almenario said two 10-wheeler trucks had to be used to haul away the drums of chemicals for making methamphetamine hydrochloride, or Ice, the finished product and 'high-end laboratory equipment' that included a dryer-mixer.
'We estimate that this was a medium-scale lab with a capacity to produce at least 10 kilos of shabu [Ice] in one production cycle', which lasts up to three days, Almenario said.
She declined to disclose whether they had arrested the mastermind or which drug cartel, if any, the men belonged to since follow-up operations were still being conducted.
Of the 10,636 people the agency arrested last year, nearly half were Chinese nationals, Almenario said.
She added the Chinese probably preferred operating in the Philippines because it no longer imposed the death penalty for drug trafficking.
A 2008 World Drug Report of the UN described the country as 'a major manufacturing and trafficking location ... a significant producer, transit country and consumer of crystal methamphetamine'.
The percentage of Chinese nationals among the 10,636 arrested by the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency last year