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23 Sep 2009

Customs authorities tag South African as mastermind in gun smuggling in Bataan


Customs authorities have identified the alleged mastermind in the illegal smuggling of high-powered firearms in Bataan.

Customs Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) director Nestorio Gualberto named the person behind the illegal operation as a certain Jo Hann, a South African.

“Based on the information deciphered from the mobile phones found in the ship, there were conversations between Bruce Jones and Dave Smith, together with a certain Jo Hann,” he said.

However, the Bureau of Customs official said that the buyers of firearms are not yet established by investigators after it was deposited on the shore of Bataan last month.

On Wednesday, Jones, the British shipmaster of M/V Captain Ufuk, appeared before the Customs legal division to collaborate the findings of the fact-finding committee. He also confirmed that the South African is their “boss” involved in the gun shipment.

“I testified against him because he tried to involve me to something obviously illegal, not only me but the entire crew of the ship. He is the one who gave me orders to transport the guns from Indonesia,” he said.

On the other hand, Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales said they will file a supplemental affidavit before the Department of Justice (DoJ) to include Hann in the charge sheet for criminal liabilities.

Meanwhile, a certain George Shavishvili, a Georgian crew member of the vessel, said that he is willing to cooperate in the ongoing investigation.

“We are not hiding anything and what we want is our freedom. I’m just 20 years old and this is the first time I’m involved in this kind of case. The truth will come out,” he said.

Last month, the bureau apprehended the 13 Georgian crews in Mariveles, Bataan, where the ship, loaded with assault rifles and pistols from Indonesia was docked. (PNA) 

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