Antinarcotics agents on Thursday dismantled laboratory equipment which could have been used to manufacture illegal drugs and explosives at a mine processing site for black sand in Aparri town in Cagayan province.
Chemicals and drug manufacturing equipment were found in a warehouse at the compound of Huaxia Mining and Trading Corp. at Barangay Tallungan in Aparri, said Laurefel Gabales, Cagayan Valley director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Confiscated chemicals include two plastic packs of orthophosphoric acid, two 500-gram plastic packs of bismuth nitrate oxide, 11 bottles of sulfuric acid, five 2.5-liter bottles of nitric acid, and a one-liter bottle of hydrogen peroxide.
PDEA agents estimate the value of the seized items at P1 million.
The compound used to operate as a processing facility for black sand. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said Huaxia was allowed to conduct dredging operations along Cagayan River.
The mining firm owners, identified as Lito Lim and Michael Tan, were not around when PDEA agents raided the warehouse, Gabales said.
But he said the owners would likely be included in the illegal drug manufacturing complaint the PDEA would file against the firm.
The raid was conducted by a joint team from the PDEA, the Cagayan police and the Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion. The team was armed with a search warrant issued by Judge Oscar Zaldivar of the Regional Trial Court in Aparri.
The compound was empty, except for security guards, PDEA officials said.
According to Mario Ancheta, MGB Cagayan Valley director, Huaxia operated under a small-scale mining permit issued by the provincial government of Cagayan.
Huaxia was granted a permit to operate in Barangay Tallungan in 2013. Its operation was suspended in 2014 when environment officials investigated the company for allegedly taking black sand out of the country, Ancheta said.
Its permit was canceled on March 7 this year. —MELVIN GASCON AND VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.
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