ANTI-DRUGS operatives from the Fuente Police Station headed by Atty. Maria Theresa Macatangay busted a local drug group, believed to be a part of a drug syndicate, inside a hotel in Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City last Monday night.
"Their modus is that they would enter a hotel, usually high-end, because the police can't afford stakeouts and at the same time they also transact online through cellphones, (in) a controlled delivery like pizza. You order, you pay, it gets delivered to you. They're not on the streets anymore unlike before and this group transacts in cash and credit," Macatangay said.
Police arrested nine suspected members of a drug group after a hotel housekeeper discovered the room's smoke detector had been tampered with around 7 p.m.
"We are very thankful for the security guard at this hotel because when the room attendant went inside to clean the room, she saw that the smoke detector was taped up with electrical tape and tissues. They were having a pot session because there were a lot of scattered paraphernalia and plastics with traces of white crystalline substance and the peep holes were also covered so this was done so that they wouldn't be detected," Macatangay said.
First to get caught were Crise Ferolino, 24; Chris Araneta, 36; Alvin Navaja, 37; and Mark Curayag, 32. They checked in at the hotel last Sunday under Ferolino's name.
Police arrested Mary Ann, Elizalde, Charles, Siegfred and Marlyn (their surnames were not released) during follow-up operations.
"In less than 12 hours, we conducted a series of operations against them. We suspect that they are a syndicate because the crime was committed not only by one person and they are connected," Macatangay said.
Authorities seized 250 grams of shabu with a market value of P2.9 million.
Macatangay said that Araneta was released from the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City after he finished his sentence last 2014, while Marlyn was a nurse in California.
Police arrested Marlyn, Siegfred's alleged cohort, inside a condominum in Barangay Lahug.
Siegfred was caught on F. Ramos Ext. in Barangay Capitol-Site while Elizalde and Charles were both caught in another condo in Lahug.
Siegfred yielded almost P2 million worth of drugs.
Police believe the group is also involved in credit card hacking after they discovered a ledger full of information of credit card accounts.
"Since we're still investigating the extent of their operations, what we know for the moment is that these bank accounts were used in another form of crime that accesses the accounts of victims mostly foreigners. We confiscated a ledger from one of the suspects that reveal that they charge the payments and other transactions during their day-to-day operations to those bank accounts," Macatangay said.
"We do not know if the owners of these bank accounts are even aware of these transactions. We need to find the owners of these bank accounts because they even have the three-digit security code for the accounts and every credit card has it. So they're a dangerous group because they do drugs and hacking," she added.
Macatangay is looking into the possibility that the group has contacts with other drug pushers buy shabu using credit cards.
Siegfred, in an interview, denied the allegations, while the others refused to comment.
"I'm not involved in any of that. Those are not mine," he said.
Ferolino may also face estafa after she failed to pay the room registered under her name.
The suspects are detained in the Fuente Police Station, pending the filing of charges against them.
Meanwhile, a 45-year-old mother, her 18-year-old son and another cohort were arrested during a drug bust in Villagonzalo II, Barangay Tejero last Monday night. Also rescued was a 16-year-old minor.
The Waterfront Police identified the arrested persons as Helen and Clark Dinoy and Carlito Go Jr.
They yielded P894,880 worth of shabu when they were caught during a One Time Big Time operation of the Cebu City Police Office. (JOB)