SIX kilos of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu with an estimated street value of P72 million were seized in a drug bust at Barangay Palampas in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental early Wednesday, August 8.
However, suspects Armando Paraquelles, his wife Josephine, both target subjects, and a certain “Putot” managed to escape during the operation.
Joint operatives of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Western Visayas and Central Visayas, together with Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit, San Carlos City Police Station, Philippine Army, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Region 7, Counter Intelligence Task Force (CITF) Subgroup Visayas, and Task Force Noah of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) raided Paraquelles’s house around 12:30 a.m.
PDEA-Western Visayas spokesperson David Garcia said these suspects are considered "new emerging group" in the province.
The couple has residences in Calatrava town and San Carlos City while the other suspect is a native of the said city, he added.
Garcia said the recovered illegal drugs that were wrapped with packaging tape costs about P40.8 million based on the standard drug price in the country but based on the street value of drugs in San Carlos City, it’s P72 million.
The value of illegal drugs in San Carlos City is P12,000 per gram.
Police operatives also recovered from the Paraquelles’s house a motorcycle, cellular phone, and boodle money amounting to P6.8 million.
Garcia said the three suspects were able to evade arrest through one of the motorcycles after they sensed the presence of authorities in the area.
“They ran towards the sugarcane plantation, leaving behind the other motorcycle,” he added.
Although at large, the three suspects will be facing charges for sale and possession of illegal drugs.
Senior Superintendent Rodolfo Castil Jr., director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo), said policemen were positioned at the possible exit points while PDEA operatives and other units were deployed in the primary area.
He also said that despite the number of units in the area, the deployment of personnel was limited in order not to compromise the operation.
“The area is vast and with such big amount of drugs, suspects probably have ‘eyes’ (persons) outside that can send a signal to them if there are police operatives in the area,” Castil said.
Castil said the suspects are considered newly-identified drug personalities and probably “keepers” of the items sent to them by drug suspects from other areas.
“Yung ginagawa kasi nung mga drug personalities na nasa listing na, pinapasa nila yung items dun sa hindi pa kilala ng awtoridad (drug personalities under the drug [watch] list bring the items to those who are not yet identified by the authorities),” Castil said.
Castil said the items will probably be distributed to other provinces and areas like Negros and Bacolod.
NBP as source
Castil said the couple allegedly sourced out the drug supply from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City. But they have to verify this yet.
“The items allegedly came from Manila and passed by Cebu City. Then from Cebu City, it entered the shoreline of Negros island, between the boundaries of Calatrava and San Carlos through a pump boat,” he said
Based on the initial assessment of PDEA-Western Visayas, Garcia said: "the illegal drugs probably came from a backdoor source, perhaps it was coursed through Mindanao, went by Central Visayas until it reached the Negros island."
Despite the big drug haul in the province, Castil said Negros Occidental is not a source of illegal drugs.
The province is considered a “transshipment area” because of the different entry points “but it does not supply illegal drugs," Castil said.
He even suggested that additional x-ray machines and K9 dogs will be placed in seaports so that they can prevent the entry of contraband in the province.
Castil assured the Negrenses that police are doing its job to address the problem of illegal drugs in the province.
He urged the community to immediately report to the authorities if there are suspicious persons or activities in their respective areas.
Meanwhile, the police refused to comment on a radio report where a family of “Putot” claimed he was arrested by unidentified men on Monday, August 6.
“Putot’s” family alleged the he was illegally arrested because there was no contraband recovered from him. His partner and family were even brought along with him.
Castil instead said the police have no idea about this.
The family, on one hand, expressed their surprise upon learning the news that “Putot” was among those who escaped in Wednesday’s drug bust.
PDEA likewise refused to comment saying they do no not know who operated or what unit arrested Putot.
“We don’t even know if what they claim is true,” Garcia said.
“What we know was that he (Putot) was part of the transaction during the drug bust,” he added.
Superintendent D’Artagnan Katalbas, chief of San Carlos City Police Station, said he has no knowledge about the allegations of Putot’s family.
But the city police force is willing to assist the family if they have concerns.
Katalbas said they could not contest the report of PDEA as to the operation, citing the anti-drug agency’s confirmation that Putot was among the escapees during the operation.