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Mexican drug cartel penetrates PHL; PDEA raids lab in Lipa City

December 26, 2013 12:15pm
(Updated 8:43 p.m.) The notorious Mexican Sinoloa drug syndicate is now in the country, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Arturo Cacdac Jr. confirmed at a press conference on Thursday.

This was after a raid on Christmas Day of a suspected drug lair in Barangay Inosluban in Lipa City in Batangas that yielded 84 kg of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) worth P420 million, a report on GMA News' "Balitanghali" said.

The police conducted surveillance operations for three months before raiding the drug lair, according to a report on “24 Oras.”

“We have previously reports that the Mexicans are here… [But] This is the first time and we have confirmed [that] the Mexicans are already here,” said Senior Superintendent Bartolome Tobias, Anti Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) chief.

Authorities nabbed three suspected members of the Mexican drug ring, identified as Gary Tan alias "Chua" and two Filipinos Argay Argenos and Rochelle Argenos, the "24 Oras" report said.

Tan supposed had connections with a certain Filipino-American passport holder named Jorge Gomez Torres, the report said.

Torres usually leaves the country with two Mexican nationals with aliases Jaime and Joey, believed to be the group's conduit to the cartel, the report said.

In an interview with GMA News Online, AIDSOTF spokesperson Don Merdegia said the two members of the Mexican drug cartel, who were the subjects of their sting operation, slipped police's hands.

"Sina Jaime at Torres po ang link ng Mexican Drug Cartel sa bansa. At, hindi pa rin po sila nahahanap hanggang sa ngayon," he told GMA News Online.

On the other hand, a Balitanghali report said Wednesday's raid was the first time Philippine National Police and PDEA operatives encountered members of a Mexican drug cartel in the Philippines.

Police and drug enforcement authorities consider as "alarming" the penetration of the Sinoloa drug cartel in the Philippines, even as members of Chinese and West African drug rings continue to operate in the country, which has been tagged as “transshipment point” of illegal drugs and other contraband.

“One is the Mexican [drug cartel]. Meron din tayong mga Chinese. There are other nationalities who are here pero hindi sila ganun ka-organized but so many nationalities are here. Minsan part of  a bigger organization pero sila pala ay kasama sa West African. So halo halo. ‘Yung investigation natin is ongoing,” PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima said during Thursday's press conference.

“It is part of our investigation how the cartel was able to penetrate our country. So, we are still in the process of determining what is the history behind the arrest of these people. Is there any other group members operating? That is also part of our investigation,” Purisima said.

“The drug business is estimated to be running in billions,” he added.

Radio dzBB, meanwhile, quoted Cacdac as saying the PDEA has seized about 832 kilos of shabu this year, 639 percent higher than the 112 kilos of confiscated shabu last year.

Meanwhile, Purisima said "close family ties" as the long-term deterrent to drugs, which usually affect the youth.

“Ang pinakamagandang prevention plan d'yan ay close family ties. 'Yung isang pamilya ay sama-sama sa hirap at ginhawa, kung ano man mangyari ay nagtutulungan at nagdadamayan,” Purisima said in the “24 Oras” report.

PDEA's Cacdac also added that drugs only poison the minds of the youth.

“Huwag tayo magpagamit. Magpapasok sila ng droga, lalasunin ang mga kabataan. Ang pinaka-advantage ng Pilipinas 'yung human resources. Magagaling ang mga Pilipino at masisipag,” he said.

Drug syndicates not allowed

For its part, Malacañang on Thursday assured Filipinos the government will not allow drug syndicates to continue.

"Siyempre po pag-iibayuhin ang pagsisikap na masabat o  mahuli ang mga lumalabag sa batas, itigil ang kanilang krimen, at pangalagaan ang kapakanan ng mga mamamayan," said Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr.

News site Global Post tagged the Sinoloa drug cartel as Mexico’s most powerful criminal syndicate.

A special report on CNN in 2012 indicated Mexico’s problems with the Sinoloa cartel and the Zetas, which had gained control of nearly half of Guatemala’s territory. Kevin Casas-Zamora, a former vice president of Costa Rica, suggested the figure is about 40 percent.

The report also said: "Mexico’s troubles are also beginning to afflict the United States. According to law enforcement authorities, Mexican drug organizations now have ties to criminal gangs in at least 230 American cities, including all of the 50 largest cities. The cartels’ presence now even extends to relatively small cities and, in some cases, to rural counties – and not just in the southwestern states, but portions of the South, the Midwest, and other regions."  — Rouchelle R. Dinglasan with a report from Kimberly Jane T. Tan and Marc Jayson Cayabyab/LBG/KG/KBK, GMA News
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