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Couple yields P9.44-M shabu

DAVAO CITY – A drug suspect and his fiancée, who were supposed to wed on Valentine’s Day, were arrested by police during a buy-bust operation that led to the confiscation of P9.44 million worth of shabu in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Police identified the suspect as Bembol R. Papata, 39, and his fiancée Jeanet Saicon, 46, both residents of Bay-bay, Pindasan, Mabini, Davao de Oro.

The driver of their vehicle, Rex J. Comaña, 28, was also arrested.

The operation was launched by the Sta. Ana Police Station and the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) 11.

In an interview on Thursday night, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) director Col. Kirby John Kraft said the suspect and his two cohorts were nabbed on Bermudez Street in Visayan Village, Tagum City, around 5:20 p.m. Thursday.

Kraft said the police agents, who acted as buyers, transacted with Papata based on information gathered by the Sta. Ana Police from previously arrested drug suspects.

“Previously, marami na kaming nahuhuling pusher dito sa Davao City, so nung na-interview namin sila ang tinuturong source nila ay itong nahuling suspect (Papata). With that nagkasa kami ng operation sa Tagum City,” he said.

The operatives seized a total of 590 grams of shabu during the operation.

“I want to report that this is the biggest catch not just here in Davao City but in the whole region,” he said.

Kraft said they were trying to find out how long Papata has been operating in this city since the apprehended suspects named him as the source of illegal drugs.

For his part, Sta. Ana Police Station commander Maj. Michael Uyanguren said that during the operation, they used the cellphone of one of their arrested suspects to transact with Papata who agreed to stage the trade in Tagum City.
Uyanguren said even the fiancee of Papata also participated in the transaction.

He said they were supposed to have their wedding on Valentine’s Day, but it was foiled after they were arrested.

Uyanguren added that Papata was also arrested for possession of illegal drugs in 2015 in the town of Mabini but was freed last year through plea bargaining agreement.

“Sa una pa, dagko gyud ning mga item niya. So, katong nakagawas siya last year, nibalik na pud siya, nisamot nag kadagko kay sa nakita nato nga item karon, daghan daghan jud (The suspect sold high volume of illegal drugs even before he was imprisoned. After he was released last year, he came back to this illegal operation with a greater volume),” he said.

However, Papata denied the accusation of the police, saying he did not own the seized drugs. He said the items were just given by someone who allegedly asked them to ferry it to Tagum City.

“Wala ko kabalo kinsa ang pangalan sa tag-iya ana… gipakarga lang na sa amoa (I do not know the name of the owner of the item… We just carried it on our vehicle),” he said.

Papata,on the other hand, admitted that the items they carried were shabu which were concealed under a folded hammock. (Armando Fenequito Jr.)