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A Facebook post intended to look for prospective buyers of second-hand cars led to the arrest of an alleged leader of the dreaded “Oliver Vargas Carnapping Group’’ operating in Nueva Ecija, police disclosed yesterday.
Oliver Bagan Vargas alias Ver, 36, was arrested in a hotel in Cabanatuan Central Terminal, Barangay M.S Garcia, Cabanatuan City, on May 31 after he posted on Facebook all carnapped vehicles for the purpose of selling or trading them with prospected buyers.
Vargas, a resident of No. 111, Barangay Ganaderia, Palayan City, has been on the criminal list because of his alleged involvement in several carnapping incidents in the province.
Together with his cohort, Diosdado Sarmienta, Jr, alias “Jay-Ar’’ and “Jayson’’, their modus operandi is to spot motor vehicles parked unattended. They are using picklocks and other similar tools to forcibly open doors of target vehicles, police said.
According to Chief Supt. Aaron N. Aquino, Police Regional Office3 (PRO3) acting director, they had been monitoring and checking Vargas’ whereabouts based on his Facebook posts, wherein he was seen in possession of different models of luxury vehicles.
Aquino said the suspect was arrested after a series of investigation and follow-up operations by operatives of PNP-High Patrol Group 3 (HPG3) Nueva Ecija led by Senior Insp. Renato L. Tabilisma, deputy team leader, and Gen. Natividad Police Station led by Senior Insp. Rex R. Perocho, and the Bongabon Police Station (BPS). Jay-ar remains at large.
Based on the initial report, the stolen vehicles were discovered last May 31 after the BPS led by Chief Insp. Agosto Asuncion verified the status of a Mitsubishi L200, no plate attached but with engine number 4D56A-A7796 and chassis number K14TJUNSL-03454, that was undergoing repaint in the shop owned by Sonny Castelo in Brgy. Sampalucan, Bongabon, Nueva Ecija.
Upon verification, it was found out that the vehicle was stolen while parked unattended (SWPU) last May 21 at about 6 a.m. in front of the house of Mr. Benjie Pineda Macapagal, owner, at Purok 6, Barangay Bantug Norte, Cabanatuan City.
Joint elements of PHPT-Nueva Ecija and Bongabon PS recovered the Mitsubishi L200 around 3 p.m. of May 31 from Castelo’s house, and by 6 p.m. they conducted a follow-up operation at the Cabanatuan Central terminal which resulted in the arrest of Vargas.
The recovered carnapped vehicles include one unit Mitsubishi L200 with PN: TGF-712 and Mercedes Benz MB100 van with PN: USF-419.
Also recovered were a .38-caliber revolver loaded with five live ammunition, picklocks, improvised keys, blank keys and other similar tools used in carnapping activities.
Vargas will face carnapping charges and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, police said.
(FRANCO G. REGALA)