Friday, May 14, 2021

PDEA-7 seizes P3.4-M illegal drugs vs. ‘lugaw’ couple

THE PHILIPPINE  Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Central Visayas on Friday confiscated some PHP3.4 million worth of illegal drugs from a live-in couple who sells "lugaw" or porridge as front to their illicit activity.  

PDEA-7 regional director Levi Ortiz said the suspects, Jaime Gastador, 43, and Jocelyn Premacio, 47, both residents of Block 2, Belgium Street, Barangay Suba here, are listed as high-value targets in Central Visayas region. They were arrested by anti-drug agents in a “high impact operation” by virtue of a search warrant issued by the local court.

The operation, he said, was a joint effort of the PDEA-7 Regional Special Enforcement Team and elements of the Naval Forces Central (NAVFORCEN) and Central Command.

Confiscated during the operation were 17 pieces of heat-sealed transparent plastic packs containing white crystalline substance suspected to be shabu, weighing more or less 500 grams and with an estimated street market value of PHP3.4 million.

When interviewed by media, Gastador and Premacio denied they owned the evidence confiscated inside their house, saying they were just selling “lugaw” to neighbors at dawn.

Ortiz, however, controverted the suspects’ claim, saying that is the common alibi of individuals arrested in drug sting operations, especially if the suspects yielded millions worth of drugs.

“Besides, where can we find those 500 grams of shabu worth PHP3.4 million? The suspects have long been placed under stringent case build up which had code name Project Alpha, a joint operation by the PDEA, BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology), NAVFORCEN and Cebu City government,” Ortiz told the Philippine News Agency in a message.

Ortiz said both Gastador and Premacio posed as contacts of the couple who are big-time operators of illegal drug transactions in Cebu.

The suspects facilitated major distribution and act as courier and supplier of shabu in Metro Cebu area, he said.

“Timing lang na-distribute na ang uban pa na drugas. Naa gyud ta mga agents naka-embed sa area long before the actual operation (It was bad timing that they have already distributed the drugs. We have agents who embedded themselves in the area long before the actual operation),” Ortiz said.

The raid was witnessed by a member of the Cebu media and a councilman of Barangay Suba.

The suspects will be facing charges in violation of Section 11, Art. II of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. (By John Rey Saavedra)

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