P2.6B shabu seized; Chinese pusher, 2 Pinoy cohorts nabbed

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    POLICE operatives seized 371 kilos of suspected shabu worth P2.522 billion and arrested a Chinese drug trafficker during a buy-bust operation in Makati City on Tuesday night.

    Follow-up operations resulted to the arrest of the Chinese’s two Filipino cohorts and the seizure of 17 more kilos of shabu, worth over P115.6 million, in Las Pinas City before noon yesterday.

    In all, the total haul was more than P2.6 billion.

    PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said the buy-bust came after two weeks of surveillance and test buy operations against the Chinese, who was identified as Liu Chao.

    Police said Chao agreed to sell a kilo of shabu, worth P6.8 million, to a poseur buyer from the PNP Drug Enforcement Group at his rented apartment in Banuyo St. in San Antonio, Makati City at around 11:45 p.m. The shabu Chao sold was placed in a foil pack marked “Pet Food.”

    “During the buy-bust, he sensed that he was dealing with the police so he ran inside the apartment. There was a hot pursuit and we discovered the large amount of shabu,” said Gamboa.

    Gamboa said two test-buys were conducted by the DEG before last Tuesday’s buy-bust operation. He said the first involved one kilo of shabu, followed by six or seven kilos of the contraband.

    “Surveillance has been conducted upon him for the past two weeks, that’s the time that he occupied this apartment and through our assets, they (DEG operatives) have pinpointed the source of this shabu trading here in this apartment,” said Gamboa.

    “This is a big haul, the haul is around 371 (kilos of shabu), probably the biggest so far in this year’s campaign (against illegal drugs). If this went to the streets, what would be its effect to the youth?” he said.

    Gamboa said it appeared the drugs seized came from abroad but could not immediately said if they were from China.

    “That (origin), we still have to determine but the way it is packed, we are more or less convinced that this came from the outside,” Gamboa said. “We still have to determine (the origin), probably conduct an interview so that we would know the flow on how this came about and was found here in the Philippines.”

    PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac described Chao as a member of a “big-time” drug syndicate operating in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Bicol regions.

    Also seized during the operation were a Hyundai Starex van, a Ford Escape sports utility vehicle, the buy-bust money, three cell phones, a black wallet containing the suspect’s identification cards and P2,500 cash; and a black pouch with US dollars, 14 Cambodian currency, and three Yuan.

    Chao and the confiscated items were brought to the DEG office in Camp Crame, pending filing of charges.

    Follow-up operations by DEG operatives resulted in the arrest of Chao’s cohorts, identified as Joel Bustamante and Merwin Bustamante, at a parking lot on C-5 Extension in Barangay Manuyo, Las Pinas City around 6 a.m. yesterday.

    Banac said the two yielded 17 kilos of shabu.

    “Said arrested suspects are the couriers of Mr. Liu Chao,” said Banac.

    Makati Mayor Abby Binay issued a stern warning to locals and foreigners involved in the illegal drug trade that they will not be tolerate in the city.

    “Let me remind everyone, both locals and foreigners, of Makati’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy against all forms of illegal drugs and substances,” Binay said.

    Nine men were arrested in buy-bust operations in Mandaluyong, Marikina and Pasig.

    Brig. Gen Johnson Almazan, Eastern Police District director, identified the nine as Carlito Coronado, 48; Jonathan Javier, 40; Reggie Santos, 41; Jonathan Dela Cruz, 21; Raymund Bauzon, 36; Ariel Pabillo, 47; Millian Bajado, 44; Julio Obina, 39; and Butoy Pasiwalan, 27. – With Rod Lagusad and Christian Oineza