Filipino police say three people arrested during a Christmas Day raid on an alleged meth lab may be working for Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the Sinaloa cartel which he heads.  The Associated Press reports that authorities acting on information from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized some $9.4 million worth of crystal meth (about 185 pounds) on Christmas Day during the raid, which took place on a ranch south of Manila leased by an American citizen, who is also alleged to have links to the Sinaloa cartel.  

Alan Purisima, chief of the Philippines’ national police force (PNP), told members of the press that one of those arrested was a Chinese-Filipino with alleged links to the cartel, while the other two were a Filipino man and wife who Purisima said were working as caretakers at the ranch.  Two other suspects, both of them Mexican, are still at large.  According to Animal Politico, Purisisma also indicated that the location of the country and the difficulty of establishing effective surveillance of its maritime borders helps encourage the movement of drugs through it, and said police investigators believe the cartel could be collaborating with Chinese drug traffickers in their Filipino operations. "We can see that they are just starting. We need to take action so they cannot go further in," he said, according to the AP.

Back in September, US Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield said during a visit to several southeastern Asian countries that Mexican and other Latin American cartels were looking to expand their networks in Asia.  InsightCrime notes that Brownfield's claim echoes a 2013 World Drug Report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which said that as demand for cocaine has decreased in North America, a surge in drug seizures in Asia and Africa appears to indicate that demand has gone up in those continents.