By Ferdinand Patinio

SEARCH ENDS. Customs authorities inspect the smuggled blue Bugatti Chiron sports car in Muntinlupa City on Wednesday (Feb. 21, 2024). The vehicle is the second of the two Bugatti Chiron sports cars that were the subject of a search earlier launched by the agency. (Photo courtesy of BOC)

MANILA – The search for the second Bugatti Chiron sports car which was smuggled into the country ended on Wednesday after it was surrendered by its owner.

In a statement, Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio said the vehicle was surrendered to the officers of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Muntinlupa City.

“The fact that the mission took barely three weeks speaks of the hard work and commitment we put into this since we appealed to the public to help us find these motor vehicles,” he said.

The BOC earlier issued a warning against a certain Thu Trang Nguyen, the registered owner of the blue sports car with plate number NIM 5448.

BOC-Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service Director Verne Enciso said the team coordinated with the village officials and its security officers before proceeding to the location of the smuggled vehicle.

The owner’s representative, lawyer Michael Mosquite, received the warrant of seizure and detention from the BOC before the luxury car was loaded onto a low-bed truck.

The vehicle was taken to the BOC-Port of Manila.

“We warned the owner of this blue sports car that we will find him and make him accountable. We’re glad he came to his senses and surrendered willingly to the bureau because we don’t plan on letting up anytime soon or ever,” he added.

On Feb. 9, the first vehicle – a red Bugatti Chiron with plate number NIM 5450 – was surrendered by its owner to authorities inside the Ayala Alabang village in Muntinlupa City.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier directed the chamber’s Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the alleged smuggling of the two vehicles worth PHP165 million each, excluding customs duties and taxes.

Reports said these vehicles were seen plying the cities of Pasay, Pasig, Muntinlupa, and Cavite province.

Despite surrendering the car, the owners will still face charges for violating Section 1401 in relation to Section 1113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). (PNA)