SMUGGLED ONIONS. A team of police and Bureau of Customs (BOC) operatives seize a shipment of 24,000 kilos of smuggled onions in Caldera Point, Labuan, Zamboanga City, on Wednesday evening (Jan. 25, 2023). The onions are estimated to be worth PHP12 million. (Photo courtesy of Michael Bonito)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Authorities have seized a shipment of 24,000 kilos of smuggled onions with an estimated worth of PHP12 million off this city, a top police official said Thursday.

Lt. Col. Reynald Ariño, 2nd Zamboanga City Mobile Force “Seaborne” Company (2ZCMFC) commander, said the shipment was intercepted around 9 p.m. Wednesday at Caldera Point, Barangay Labuan here.

The 2ZCMFC operatives, together with Bureau of Customs personnel, launched a seaborne patrol after receiving information that a shipment of onions was set to arrive in this city coming from Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi province.

Ariño said while on patrol, the joint team chanced upon a wooden-hulled vessel, Princess Nurdisza, cruising at the Caldera Point.

When inspected, the vessel was found loaded with some 6,000 bags of onions at four kilos each for a total of 24,000 kilos.

The onions, estimated to be worth PHP12 million, came from India which was purchased by a business firm based in Sandakan City, Sabah, Malaysia.

Police said the crew members claimed they had no idea who is the consignee of the onions as it was the vessel’s owner who transacted for a charter service.

The confiscated onions were turned over to the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) for proper disposition.

The smuggled onions seized on Wednesday evening were the second-largest shipment seized in a week.

On Monday, some 44,000 kilos of onions were apprehended at a private-owned dry dock in Barangay Cawit here. (PNA)