HOW did Franz Sabalones rise from a lowly traffic enforcer, earning minimum wage, to a millionaire drug trafficker with an estimated P350 million worth of assets in 12 years?
Sabalones has three bank accounts and eight real properties in Cebu worth millions of pesos, court records showed.
The Philippine Government is seeking to forfeit all of his assets on suspicions that these were acquired through “covered transactions” such as drug trafficking.
“There is an apparent incongruity in the spending behavior of Franz Sabalones vis-a-vis his anticipated cash inflows,” the petition read.
Sabalones, 40, was born on April 27, 1977. He said he got hooked on illegal drugs in 1989 at the age of 12.
Nine years later, Sabalones was caught and underwent rehabilitation, according to his judicial affidavit.
After his release, Sabalones worked as a traffic enforcer of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (now Cebu City Transportation Office) in 2003 until 2005.
In 2005, Sabalones engaged in small-time sale of shabu supplied by neighbors and other people.
From being a small-scale trafficker, he became one of the largest distributors in Central Visayas.
In 2003, he met a certain Roland Abelgas, who allegedly offered him a bigger supply of illegal drugs.
From 25 grams, Sabalones distributed 500 grams in two to three weeks.
The man was connected to Central Visayas’ top drug lord Jeffery “Jaguar” Diaz.
Roy Velez, an inmate of the National Bilibid Prison, introduced Sabalones to another inmate, Willy Yang, who reportedly supplied him with a kilo of shabu. It later became three kilos, and increased further to 15 kilos.
In March 2016, a kilo of shabu worth P1.3 million was delivered to Sabalones in Cebu. Payments were made through deposits to a private bank account every time the supply sold out.
Ten kilos were delivered right away. If Sabalones ordered more than 10 kilos, the delivery would take about two to three days. The shabu was vacuum-packed.
Girls were used to deliver the contraband outside a mall. None of the deliveries was apprehended by the police.
A kilo of shabu sold out in five days. Payments for bigger supplies were made on several installments. The orders were placed through phone calls made directly to the inmate since orders through text messages were not allowed.
The account number was sent through text if the cell phone number was new. Sabalones ordered 100 kilos from Yang for two years.
Sabalones, in his judicial affidavit, admitted giving P507,000 to some personnel of the Police Regional Office 7 and to an agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 7 as protection for his men.
On Aug. 7, 2016, Sabalones surrendered to Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa in Camp Crame, after President Rodrigo Duterte announced the names of alleged drug protectors, including his brother San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones.
He admitted he was formerly an “underling” of Jaguar Diaz and assumed control of Cebu’s drug trade after the latter was killed by the police in Las Piñas City on June 17, 2016.
He was turned over to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, where he executed his affidavits.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed the civil petition in court seeking to forfeit Sabalones’ assets last Aug. 10.
Apart from Sabalones, also named respondents were his relative Luna M. Sabalones, Land Registration Authority, Cebu Provincial Register of Deeds, Cebu City Register of Deeds, San Fernando Municipal Assessor’s Office, Banco de Oro (BDO), Unibank, Wealth Development Bank and First Standard Finance Corp.
The process server, assisted by PDEA 7 agents, served on Aug. 11 Judge Gilbert Moises’ provisional asset preservation order to Cebu City branches of BDO on Ramos St. and two Wealth Bank branches on Archbishop Reyes Ave. and on Ramos St.; the Cebu Provincial Register of Deeds; and the Cebu City Register of Deeds.
Sabalones’s real properties include four in various barangays in San Fernando, Cebu worth P24,556,391; a property in Barangay Poblacion, Carcar City worth P20,000,000; and another property in Barangay Guadalupe worth P305,490,600.
Sabalones made inter-branch cash deposits in various BDO branches in Cebu ranging from P24,000 to P2 million in 2012.
Judge Moises set the summary hearing on the asset preservation on Aug. 29, 2017. (GMD)