NBI arrests 5 suspected drug dealers at Closeup concert

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) nabbed 5 persons who were allegedly involved in the manufacture and sale of ecstasy that were sold at the Closeup Forever Summer concert, which left 5 attendees dead.

NBI Anti-Illegal Drugs Division chief Joel Tovera told reporters on Wednesday, June 1, that the following suspects were apprehended during a buy-bust operation conducted in a condominium unit in Parañaque City the night before: 

The suspects, whose ages range from 20 to 30 years old, were found in possession of marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy. 

Their condominium unit also contained several equipment used in manufacturing substances prohibited under Republic Act No 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

EQUIPMENT. The suspects are found in possession of equipment used in manufacturing drugs.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

"To tell you frankly, this is the first time na makakuha tayo ng ganitong (that we were able to nab a) kitchen-type laboratory and consistent po ito doon sa mga (and this is consistent with the) new psychoactive substances or synthetic drugs for the past days," said Tovera. 

"Napakatindi po ng liabilidad nila under our laws (They are liable under our laws)," he added. 

On May 28, the NBI had arrested alleged Closeup concert drug dealer Joshua Habalo.  

All 6 suspects arrested so far admitted to the NBI that they attended the Pasay City concert.

Concert-goers Bianca Fontejon, Ariel Leal, Lance Garcia, Ken Migawa, and Robertson Miller died after attending the event. (READ: Music, drugs, and alcohol: Do young Pinoys party to get high?)

Initial autopsy results on Fontejon, Garcia, Migawa, and Miller point to drug overdose as the possible cause of death, but authorities' investigation of the incident continues. (READ: NBI: Blackened hearts of 2 Closeup concert casualties 'highly unusual’

Buy-bust operation

ILLEGAL DRUGS. The NBI displays the packets of ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana seized from the suspects.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

According to Tovera, the NBI AIDD set up the entrapment operation after getting orders from NBI Director Virgilio Mendez.

NBI agents went undercover on Tuesday evening to buy a small medicine bottle containing ecstasy from Villanueva. 

They immediately arrested him after he received the marked money from the undercover agents. The NBI personnel then escorted Villanueva to the condominium unit, where the rest of the suspects were staying.

According to the NBI report, Deen supposedly closed the door when he saw that Villanueva was escorted by the authorities.

The agents were then forced to open the door, where they saw the rest of the suspects along with the illegal drugs and their manufacturing equipment.

"Ang ating pong team ay walang tigil sa pagtugis simula nang mahuli natin nung Sabado ang isang nagbenta dun sa Pasay concert. Tuloy-tuloy na po 'yun," said Tovera.

(Our team has been relentless since we arrested one of the alleged dealers who sold drugs during the Pasay concert last Saturday. The manhunt will just continue.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.