FROM a multi-million-peso drug syndicate, the Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz group has become a band of ex-convicts falling in the hands of authorities.
When Diaz, considered one of the major drug lords in the Philippines and the biggest drug lord in Cebu, died during an alleged shootout with police last June 17, his elaborate and established drug network collapsed.
“Nangahadlok mi pagkamatay ni Jaguar ‘nya pagkadaug ni Duterte (We were afraid after Jaguar died and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte became president)” were the usual lines of high-value targets when they landed in jail.
Many of his right-hand men--courier, personal security guard, hitman and collector--were taken into custody through pending warrants of past crimes.
“They had attempted to replace him but every time we received a report, we always managed to arrest the personality who was supposed to head the group again,” said Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Joel Doria.
Out of the picture
In the matrix provided by the City Intelligence Branch of the Cebu City Police Office, eight major drug players in Jaguar’s syndicate have been categorized as neutralized.
First on the list was Reynaldo “Jumbo” Diaz, Jaguar’s cousin, who was on the national drugs watchlist. Jumbo, who allegedly took over Jaguar’s drug business in Central Visayas, was arrested in Sorsogon last September for an illegal drug case and for two counts of frustrated murder.
Mark Duaban, a suspected long-time drug pusher, surrendered to authorities during Oplan Tokhang last July 6.
Roland Abelgas, a suspected drug lord was killed on May 29, 2015 by two unidentified gunmen.
Alexander “Potot/Lito Bato” Saldua, a suspected level 2 drug pusher, was arrested during the funeral of his wife, who died of cancer on Nov. 28.
Joselito “Otik” Arellano, Diaz’s right-hand man who also served as his driver and bodyguard, was arrested last Dec. 15. He had a warrant of arrest for robbery with violence and intimidation.
Arellano admitted that he was contacted by Chinese businessman Peter Co during a drug delivery from Muntinlupa City to Cebu City.
Jaguar’s alleged hitman and courier, Joselito Tecson, was also arrested after a two-month surveillance last Dec. 4.
Alan Tabalin, the most elusive of Jaguar’s men who served as his collector, was nabbed by the Regional Intelligence Unit and the Mambaling police last Dec. 19.
The latest to fall was Michael Añedez, who was arrested during Christmas Eve.
Doria told Sun.Star Cebu that they had traced the drug route used by the Jaguar group.
“We are not discounting the possibility that they might be using the route again,” he said.
According to CCPO records, it has conducted 1,245 operations in the last six months, arresting 2,020 drug personalities, 406 pushers and 1,614 users from July 1 to Dec. 29.
Some 8,564 also surrendered during Oplan Tokhang, of which 7,332 were users and 1,247 were pushers.
“Let the records speak for itself,” Doria said.
When President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office on July 1, authorities scrambled to eradicate the drug trade.
Some drug pushers panicked and tried to hide their tracks by killing colleagues and drug users, Doria said.
Of the 92 cases of deaths under investigation as a result of the anti-drugs campaign in Cebu City, only 15 were filed in court.
Fifty-three of the deaths were classified as drug-related. Only one was solved.
Most of the victims’ relatives were reportedly afraid they’d be killed if they filed a case against authorities.
Some 21 drug personalities have been killed by police in legitimate operations since July.
Doria said they are careful in their operations.
“We have to catch them alive so that we can gather more information from them,” he said.
Doria hopes they can start clearing barangays and declaring these as drug-free.