, MANILA, Feb 1 – Sealed bricks of cocaine have been washing up on an island in the Philippines, the justice secretary said Monday, as she warned the public against gathering the illegal substance.
Three bricks weighing a total of more than three kilograms (6.6 pounds) washed up on the eastern shore of central Samar island over the weekend, bringing to 203 kilograms the amount recovered so far, said Secretary Agnes Devanadera.
The cocaine is believed to be part of a shipment of about a tonne that was dumped overboard by a foreign vessel, according to a tip-off from the US Coast Guard, she told reporters.
"The Philippines was not the intended end-user of that shipment. It was originally bound for Hong Kong but apparently, the group felt they were under surveillance, so to avoid being arrested, they dumped the shipment in the area," said Devanadera.
Despite the seizure of some cocaine bricks, marked "Coca Cola Disfruta," there were reports that many fishermen had been hoarding bricks that they had found, Devanadera said.
"We have received reports that there is still a big volume of the shipment in the hands of the people in the villages. Just because you just picked it up does not mean you have no liability. You would also be punished. If we catch you, you will not get out of jail," she said.
Possession of large amounts of illegal drugs is punishable by life imprisonment in the Philippines.