Large cocaine stash uncovered at Philippines wharf

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DAVAO, Philippines (AP) — A large stash of high-grade cocaine was uncovered in the Philippines when several hidden packets tumbled from the ceiling of a shipping container in a private wharf, officials said Monday.

The find made Saturday totaled more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds) and an estimated worth about 300 million pesos ($6.7 million).

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao city said he believed the Philippines was a transit point for the drugs, which could be intended for more lucrative markets in the United States or Europe, and the government would seek Interpol help to determine the drugs' origin and destination.

Regional director Emerson Rosales of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said the cocaine, wrapped in plastic packs, was concealed in the container ceiling and accidentally tumbled down, revealing the illicit cargo.

The wharf was being used by a banana-exporting company, but Duterte said he believed that company officials were unaware that one of their leased containers held illegal drugs.

The container was transported by ship to Manila from Hong Kong last December then arrived in Davao, a bustling port city, in January. Investigators were trying to identify people who had access to the container, which was used to transport bananas and other fruits, Rosales said.

In 2009, Philippine authorities found 16 kilograms (35 pounds) of cocaine hidden in an empty container at government-run wharf in Davao city, but officials never found out who were behind the shipment.

The Philippines has cracked down on drug trafficking amid a growing drug menace and indications that foreign-based syndicates, including a Mexican drug cartel, have been operating in the country.

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