MANILA, Philippines - Chinese authorities are now looking for the three Liberian nationals who reportedly used Filipinas as "drug mules" to bring illegal drugs into Hong Kong, the National Bureau of Investigation said on Thursday.
At least seven women from the Cordillera province were reported to be detained in Hong Kong after they were accused of acting as "drug couriers" for an illegal drug syndicate.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Claro Cristobal told GMANews.TV they are still verifying the report.
The NBI, in coordination with the Chinese government, through the Chinese Embassy, is going after the Liberian nationals who reportedly flew to Macau after being sought after by authorities.
Head Agent (HA) Arnel Dalumpines, chief of NBI- Special Task Force (STF), said the NBI is tracking track down the Liberians, whose identities were withheld.
Dalumpines said investigation showed that the drugs seized from these OFWs came from India, brought into the Philippines, and ended up in Hong Kong.
Dalumpines earlier said two female OFWs were arrested in Hong Kong.
One OFW, who was not arrested, was being hunted down by the three Liberian syndicate members in Hong Kong. When the Liberians knew that Hong Kong authorities were after them, they fled to Macau.
Dalumpines said that the families of the two latest OFWs arrested by Hong Kong authorities came to the NBI to seek for help to bring back these OFWs, whom the families believe are "innocent."
The NBI is also looking into the legal assistance they may extend to the detained Filipinas.
They also filed a complaint against these unidentified Liberians.
The NBI official also said that the three Liberians were reportedly introduced to the three OFWs through a common friend, a certain Benny Annaway, whose wife is reportedly in Guangzhou, China, and who also knows another Liberian national living there.
Lynn Madalang, Ebgan executive director, earlier revealed that the seven overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) grabbed the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong to escape from bad relationships and abusive spouses.
The women however, were questioned by airport authorities for carrying suspicious-looking pieces of luggage to China.
Two Cordillera women were consequently jailed when their luggage turned out to conceal heroin when they entered Hong Kong, she said.
Ebgan and NBI have been able to connect seven separate arrests in Hong Kong to the women from Cordillera since they were said to have been sent by Annaway.
Based on the information gathered by Ebgan and NBI, Hong Kong and other Chinese jails have in custody two sisters from Ifugao; a woman from Bauko, Mt. Province; a woman from Sabangan, also in Mt. Province; and two women from Conner, Apayao.
Madalang said the set-up could have been going on since 2006.
An official of the travel agency, which issued these women their Hong Kong tickets, said they were cooperating with investigators. The official said the agency sold more than seven tickets to Annaway.
Annaway, in an April 24 testimony he made before NBI agent Dickson Maraneg, admitted recruiting several of these women on behalf of a China-based benefactor he identified only as “IFEANYI," based on a transaction receipt from Western Union.
Annaway said he received $2,500 which he distributed to the recruits.
He spent on their travel fees and roundtrip airfares and provided each recruit $400 in travel allowances.
But Annaway said he was not aware that they were duped into carrying illegal drugs to China.
As proof of his good faith, Annaway said his own cousin is among those detained now at the Tai Lam Center for Women in Hong Kong.
Annaway said the luggage carried by his cousin, Michelle, to Guangzhou, China, on March 30, was sent to him on March 21 by his China-based wife, Joehan, through a Filipina named Uria.
After getting the luggage, Annaway said a man, who identified himself as Joehan’s “boss," called and directed him to keep the luggage until it was fetched by a person leaving for Hong Kong.
Annaway admitted opening the luggage after his wife told him it contained “precious jewelry," but found them empty.- GMANews.TV