Customs Consignee of seized van used fake name, address

Posted on November 18, 2011


WHERE is “Renato R. Ramos”?

Customs officials said a fake name and address were used by the consignee of the seized 40-foot container van from California, whose contents, which included rifle accessories, bullets and big bikes, were misdeclared as “personal effects.”

The barangay captain of Banilad certified that no Renato Ramos lives in the area and that the address “1513 J. Rizal Street, Banilad, Cebu City” was fictitious.

“Our team went to the address listed in the bill of lading, affidavit and the packing list of Renato Ramos but the address was non-existent,” said Cebu Customs Collector Ronnie Silvestre.

With this, Silvestre said he will issue a warrant of seizure and detention (WSD) for the cargo and next week, an order to have the goods sold in a public auction.

United States Embassy personnel went to the office of the Bureau of Customs in Cebu yesterday to look deeper into the smuggling attempt.

“The U.S. Embassy is interested to coordinate with us on how the gun parts from the US were able to slip through,” Silvestre said.

The van arrived in Cebu last Nov. 3 and was opened for full inspection last Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Inside, mixed with household and office furniture, were gun components, ammunition and chop-chop parts of big motorbikes.

The value of the cargo was estimated at P3.5 million.
A Customs inventory recorded 1,080 bullets for an M16 rifle, 997 pieces of .30 caliber lead, 294 empty shells, rifle scopes, and rifle parts like bolt carriers, butt stocks, and Magpul-branded grips and hand rails.

The van was shipped from Oakland, California, passed through Hong Kong and arrived in Cebu last Nov. 3.

Among the documents was a sworn affidavit dated Nov. 3 issued by “Renato R. Ramos”, but the Cebu Customs Collector said he suspects even that paper was fictitious.

The affidavit shows “Renato R. Ramos” asserting that he was the owner of the 40-foot container van containing “Personal Effects” and that “this is my first and last importation.”

It said the shipment “has no prohibited drugs, firearms, ammunition and any other banned items according to Philippine law.”

The purported signature and credentials of a lawyer-notary public who prepared the affidavit is being looked into by Customs officials.

The Customs broker who processed documents of the shipment and facilitated its release was identified as a certain Rafael Rubio.

“We have his SSS (Social Security Number). He is still under investigation,” Silvestre said.

In a previous interview, Silvestre said the Customs broker could have his license revoked if evidence shows he had knowledge of the real contents of the van. /Correspondent Rhea Ruth V. Rosell

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