NBI nabs alleged drug syndicate members in BGC
MANILA, Philippines – Two Canadians and a Filipino were arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in a drug raid at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) early morning Wednesday, January 15.
Canadians James Riach and Barry Espadilla and Filipino Tristan Olazo were nabbed at the Luxe Residence on 28th street in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.
Intelligence reports from the bureau said a big-time syndicate with ties to a Mexican drug cartel has been operating the drug facility for about 7 months now.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima said finished products of cocaine, shabu, and ecstasy were confiscated in the clandestine drug laboratory. The laboratory also had equipment used in illegal drug activities, including heaters, sealers, and a weighing scale.
According to de Lima, it was NBI Director Medardo Delemos who alerted her about the raid through a text message. The message said that 4 of 5 search warrants led to the seizure of illegal drugs.
Links of the alleged BGC illegal drug operations to one of the world's most notorious drug trafficking syndicates – the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico – have yet to be established, however. Various reports have also identified the Sinaloa cartel as the most powerful organized crime group in Mexico.
While ties to Sinaloa are still being investigated, an NBI informant is certain the drugs are from Mexico. Mexico is besieged by a drug war, with rival drug cartels engaging in violent clashes against each other for control of the illegal drugs trade.
The Philippines, on the other hand, has been tagged as one of the key transit points in the global illegal drugs trade.
Prosecution and next steps
The 3 alleged drug syndicate members who were arrested will be prosecuted in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforment Agency (PDEA) and other law enforcement agencies.
"Kailangan talaga siguro dito ng intensified effort to neutralize yang influx na yan ng mga drugs na yan from other countries, including Mexico lalo na kapag Sinaloa na naman yan. Because as we know, yung sa Lipa raid was confirmed to be Sinaloa," said de Lima.
(An intensified effort is perhaps needed to neutralize the influx of drugs from other countries especially Mexico, especially if [the drugs came] from Sinaloa. Because as you know, the [drugs from the] Lipa raid was confirmed to be from Sinaloa.)
The justice secretary was referring to the December 25 raid by joint elements of PDEA and the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Task Operations Force of a Leviste corporation-owned ranch.
Three members of the Leviste clan, a known political family in Batangas, have since denied involvement in the illegal drug activity. (READ: Levistes deny links illegal drug ops in family ranch)
The two Canadians nabbed, said de Lima, are also members of a dreaded crime gang in Canada.
Both have previous convictions in Canada, which is what alerted the NBI Foreign Liaison Division/Interpol.
De Lima said stricter monitoring of entry by foreigners with a derogatory status in their home countries will be the next step in curbing illegal drug activities in the country. It is the Bureau of Immigration (BI) – an agency under the DOJ, like the NBI, that is tasked with this.
"We will sit down also with the BI and try to come up with stricter measures to be able to stop and detect and try to pereempt the entry of mga (those) criminal elements," de Lima said. – Rappler.com
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