Shabu price up, cocaine prices down

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 Feb) —  Shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) no longer the poor man’s cocaine as it is has become “more expensive than cocaine and is more in demand,” the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) here said.

Emerson Rosales, PDEA regional officer-in-charge, said shabu sells for P10,000 to P12,000 a gram while cocaine sells for P6,000 a gram.

Rosales noted that because illegal drug users could not find cocaine, they settle for shabu, thus pushing the price of shabu up and the price of
cocaine down.

He said the sole catch of cocaine in the region happened in December 2009,  all 16 kilos of it placed inside a supposed empty container van.  Rosales and other narcotics authorities inspecting the contraband, believe it was not intended for the Davao market, although Rosales said  the Davao Region users of illegal drugs could afford that market value.
“In 2009, all illegal drugs we intercepted were valued at P100 million,” he said. “Mostly, these were shabu and marijuana.”

He said illegal drug users in the region could absorb and afford this volume of illegal drugs entering the region which comprises the three Davao
provinces (Davao del Norte, del Sur and Oriental) and the cities of Davao, Digos, Tagum, Panabo and Island Garden City of Samal.

“Users now prefer shabu but they could also afford cocaine,” he said, adding the low market price of cocaine is due to the difficulty in sourcing it.

Besides, Rosales added, cocaine is not intended for Davao “but for China, using this city as transshipment point” to avoid detection. He said the
cocaine came from Brazil.
Rosales said there are no shabu laboratories operating within the region, apparently due to the vigilante-style killings that have been targeting
illegal drug traders and distributors since the 1990s.
His assurance came as the prime crusader against illegal drugs here, former mayor and now vice-mayor Rodrigo Duterte, last year suspected the presence in the city of shabu “tiangge” areas in slum areas may indicate operations of a a clandestine shabu laboratory.

The first known shabu laboratory that operated here was short-lived after authorities caught up with them while drying their shabu materials on New Year’s Day in 2005.  Six Taiwanese nationals were killed in the raid in Dumoy, 13 kilometers south of downtown. Shabu worth more than P150 million were still spread to dry in the two-decked bed.

But Rosales said PDEA agents have yet to have evidence of the alleged operation of shabu laboratories in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and in Ozamiz City.
“There have been reports and suspicion about these laboratories but we could not get enough evidence,” he said. He admitted though, that as agents continue to press on with their investigation, “the reports keep on getting truer that they exist.” (MindaNews)