By AARON B. RECUENCO • FREDDIE G. LAZARO • ZALDY COMANDA
Police seized 14 gallons or around 300 liters of a raw material that could yield shabu worth P1.9 billion in a raid on a banana plantation at the boundary of Apayao and Cagayan last Friday.
Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius Ferro, director of the Philippine National Police-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, said the liquid substance which is the main ingredient in the manufacture of shabu could be part of the unrecovered shabu essentials during a raid in Barangay Nicolas Agatep in Lasam, Cagayan last February 26.
“We received information about the presence of plastic containers and our informant said there are strong indications that the substance is raw material for shabu,” said Ferro.
After confirming the information, the AIDG, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and local police swooped down on the plantation in Barangay Ayaga, Ballesteros, Cagayan and Barangay Malekkeg, Sta. Marcela, Apayao.
The containers were found in different locations near a swamp not far from each other, hidden under a tree, and covered with banana leaves.
Ferro said that based on the color and odor of the substance, it could be chloroform or ether which is among the main ingredients in manufacturing shabu.
He said additional tests would be conducted in Camp Crame, Quezon City for confirmation.
“When these are converted from liquid form into grams of shabu, it could produce some P1.9 billion worth of shabu,” said Ferro.
Ferro said they are investigating if the liquid substance they seized were used in making shabu found in a shabu laboratory in a beach resort in Lasam, Cagayan.
Police are also determining if a certain Atong Labbao whose name cropped up during the investigation was killed by his companions for keeping the liquid substance last month. “Labbao was killed in the ambush in July. And we are looking into the possibility that it has something to do with this,” said Ferro.
“We believe that what happened to him could be a case of double cross, maybe he was killed because he did something that caused the ire of his partners in the syndicates,” said Ferro.
Ferro said the chemical test of the liquid substance would reveal the possible connection between the shabu dug up in the beach resort in Lasam and the Chinese ship seized in Subic, Zambales recently.
The vessel, called a floating shabu laboratory, was reportedly supplying the finished product and materials in manufacturing shabu in Luzon.
PDEA Cordillera Regional Director Juvenal Azurin said the raid was a joint intelligence effort of the police and PDEA. “This successful discovery of the chemical in making high grade shabu is a joint intelligence effort of the police and the PDEA agents,” he said.
Chief Supt. Elmo Sarona, Cordillera police director, said that they have full belief that the 14 containers are part of the 50 removed from the shabu laboratory in Lasam raided by the police last February 16, 2015.
“Sa aming intelligence report ay 50 container gallon ang naipuslit noon bago ni-raid ang shabu lab, kaya ngayon sa pagkakadiskubre ng 14 ay may 36 pa kaming hahanapin,” said Sarona.
Meanwhile, 30 kilos of suspected shabu valued at P103 million were seized from a suspected foreign drug pusher in a raid on a warehouse in Angeles City, Pampanga Friday.
Central Luzon police regional director Chief Supt. Aaron N. Aquino identified the suspect as an alias “Yiye Chen.”
Acting on information provided by concerned citizens, authorities secured a search warrant and raided the warehouse on Hensonville Subdivision.
“It was another feather in the cap of our anti-illegal operatives and the PDEA who have pursued the leads relentlessly and followed the legal processes that resulted in the raid and seizure of the illegal drugs. I would like to commend the police operatives and PDEA who worked religiously in eradicating this national drug menace that destroys countless lives,” Aquino said.
“The seizure and arrests proved that our law enforcement agencies are working as one and that cooperation and sharing of information are most effective in combating the illegal drugs trade. Also, I would like to encourage our townsfolk and local officials to report to our police individuals involved in illegal drug. Your assistance and cooperation will surely boost our anti-illegal drugs operations,” added Aquino. (with a report from Freddie G. Velez)