Four Chinese drug traffickers were killed Tuesday and 500kg of methamphetamine seized in a sting operation in the northern Philippines, police said, describing it as the biggest narcotics haul this year.
The drugs, with an estimated value of nearly US$70 million, were put on small boats in international waters and smuggled into the country, Philippine National Police said in a statement.
One of the men killed was identified as Xu Youha, who police said was “one of the key players of illegal drugs activities” in the Philippines and had been under surveillance.
The buy-bust operation at a hotel in Candelaria town, Zambales province, “resulted in the death of four Chinese drug traffickers who engaged government operatives in a gun battle in a failed attempt to escape,” the statement said.
Police believe the drugs were to be distributed in Luzon, the Philippines’ main island.
The sting involved several government agencies led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
“This operation was a result of the whole-of-government approach in our campaign against illegal drugs,” police chief General Guillermo Eleazar said in the statement.
The operation follows the seizure last year of more than 800 kilograms of methamphetamine, locally known as “shabu”, near Manila.
Addiction to meth has been used by President Rodrigo Duterte to justify his war against drugs and prevent the country’s slide to narco-state status.
International Criminal Court prosecutors are seeking to investigate the anti-narcotics campaign that rights groups say has killed tens of thousands of people.