Customs men seize van loaded with gun parts, big bikes worth P3.5M

Posted on November 17, 2011

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Whoever shipped home to Cebu the van load of “personal effects” from California didn’t expect it to be inspected.

The Bureau of Customs yesterday opened the 40-foot container van and found gun components, ammunition and chop-chop parts of big motorbikes smuggled among household items.

“Overall, the estimated amount of the seized items is P3.5 million,” said Cebu District Collector Ronnie Silvestre said.

The van was consigned to a certain Renato Ramos from JP Rizal Street, Banilad, Cebu City.

Customs officers said they would give him an “opportunity to be heard” even as they raised the possibility that the name could be fictitious.

The van contained a living room sofa, office chairs, office supplies, stuffed toys, household items and kitchenware among others.

It was shipped from Oakland, California, passed through Hong Kong and arrived in Cebu last Nov. 3.
Silvestre said the Customs office would do a background check today of “Renato Ramos.”

“If we find out that the customs broker colluded with the consignee, the least we can do is to have his license revoked,” Silvestre said.

Ramos faces possible administrative charges filed by the Bureau of Customs and criminal charges to be prepared by the police, said District Commander Maj. Camilo Cascolan Jr.

The seized contents included 1,080 bullets for an M-16 rifle, 294 empty shells with primer, 200 pieces of 9 MM lead.

Gun parts of the brand “Magpul” included 7 trigger guards, 4 XTM rail panels, and several “grips,” rifle scopes, a reloading kit and a trigger assembly. (See list of van contents in page 1.)

The van also contained five “big-bike” motorcycles, one all-terrain vehicle (ATV) that looks like a four-wheeler bike and a wide-screen television.

Silvestre said the value of the “branded parts” of the rifles was about P1 million, while the all-terrain vehicle was about P500,000 and each motorcycle was about P250,000.

The shipment entry declared the contents as “personal effects.”

The Customs will issue an order of forfeiture for the entire shipment in favor of the government, he said, because the consignee “misdeclared” the contents to conceal gun parts.

He said the gun parts were all accessories and a “receiver” is needed to assemble a complete firearm.
The cargo vessel will not be sanctioned, however.

“Common carriers are not aware of the contents of the cargo van. We (the Bureau of Customs) will be the one to inspect the contents,” Silvestre told Cebu Daily News.

The unloading of the van came weeks after the ship arrived because Silvestre was in Manila, he explained.

“I received a report about the contents of the van but I was still in Manila when the ESS (Enforcement and Security Service) discovered it. They waited for me to arrive in Cebu before unloading the items,” Silvestre said.

He said they received an “intelligence information” about the contents in the course of the ESS examination. /By Rhea Ruth V. Rosell, Correspondent
 

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