A passenger vessel loaded with an estimated 1,000 sacks of smuggled rice that came from Sulu was intercepted by a joint team of police and military security forces in Zamboanga City on Wednesday.
According to Police Superintendent Ariel Huesca, commander of the Public Safety Battalion, members of the police and the Marines held M/V Magnolia Liliflora when it arrived and docked at the local wharf about 4:30 in the morning when they received tips from civilians that the vessel was carrying smuggled rice.
Huesca said the joint security forces led by Police Inspector Edgardo Esperat Domingo and Sgt. Marlon Jarabelo conducted the board and search inspection along with the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Customs.
The smuggled sacks containing 25-kilo rice each were concealed in larger containers with three sacks each. The seized goods were turned over to the Bureau of Customs for inventory and confiscation, Huesca said.
Recent reports revealed that smuggled goods are usually unloaded in Sulu and shipped to the southern port city of Zamboanga.
Authorities and security forces have intensified efforts against rice smuggling in key areas in Zamboanga as part of operation concept “PUMA: Pulis, Marines at Army.”