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Ex-mayor arrested over drugs, guns


CAMP JULIAN OLIVAS, Pampanga – A former municipal mayor and alleged leader of a criminal gang engaged in robbery, gun for hire, gunrunning, and drug pushing was arrested Wednesday afternoon following a firefight in his home in Arayat, Pampanga.

Luis Alonzo Espino and four of his followers gave up after engaging the arresting officers in a one-hour gunbattle in Alonzo Subdivision in Barangay Cacutud, according to Chief Supt. Aaron N. Aquino, Police Regional Office 3 regional director.

Operatives of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation Detection Group 3, headed by Senior Supt. Edwin Quilantes, and the Arayat municipal police station tried to serve a search warrant issued by Judge Ana Marie Joson-Viterbo of the Cabanatuan City Regional Trial Court Branch 24 at 5:45 p.m.

Police said they were fired upon, forcing them to engage.

PO2 Robert Ron Fernandez and SPO1 Joy Venturillo, both of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force, were wounded and brought to the hospital for treatment.

Espino’s men were later identified as Rosendo Dizon, Cesar Peralta, Romy Mallari, and Rosauro Dillera Jr.
Quilantes said Espino is the listed leader of Espino Criminal Gang allegedly involved in illegal activities in the province.

Espino was former captain of Barangay Cacutud before becoming the town’s mayor.

Quilantes said the operation stemmed from an information given by a confidential agent and concerned citizen from the same barangay that the former mayor and his men were in their residence on that date.

Seized from the suspect’s house include 19 pieces of heat sealed transparent plastic sachet containing suspected shabu with an estimated value of P450,000, a baby Armalite M16 Bush Master, three grenades, two rifle grenades, and assorted ammunition. (FRANCO G. REGALA)