MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines recovered on Monday 11 kilograms (24.2 pounds) of methamphetamine, an illegal stimulant, from positions recovered from rebel militants in the southern city of Marawi, where clashes between soldiers and Islamist fighters have claimed over 340 lives.
The drug stash, which has an estimated market value of between 110 to 250 million pesos ($2.2-$5.1 million), was recovered by the army after an insurgency outfit was forced to flee from a position following gunfire exchange, according to a statement by the Western Mindanao Command.
Packages containing “shabu” – as crystal meth is locally known – were seized from a house along with four firearms, the statement added.
Although it is not the first time shabu has been found from rebel positions, it is the largest drug bust so far, the statement said.
The statement added that the recovery is evidence of southern Philippines terrorists’ involvement in criminal activities and demonstrates that their funding was aided by drug trafficking.
Led by Islamist leader Isnilon Hapilon and heads of homegrown guerrilla group Maute, the rebels continue to counter the armed forces’ bombardments in Marawi.
Between 500 and 1,000 civilians remain trapped in the region still under terrorist control, hindering army operations.
The clashes, that began on May 23 following an armed uprising by the Maute, have left 257 rebels and 62 security personnel dead so far, besides 26 civilians, according to official figures.
Meanwhile, nearly all of the over 200,000 inhabitants of the city have either fled or been evacuated from the place.