Saturday, September 21, 2019

Briones: Ecstasy matrix

On the go

IT TOOK the loss of a 19-year-old student’s life for the public to train its eyes on another social menace.

Ecstasy has managed to stay under the radar because people who sell or use this illegal drug are mostly well-to-do.

Transactions don’t take place in some shady alley or inside ramshackle huts. The tiny tablets exchange hands during big parties or entertainment events, occasions attended not by Cebu’s hoi polloi, but by scions of Cebu’s high society.

At an average of P2,000 a pop, only they can afford the indulgence.

But that was before a girl collapsed during an open-air concert the night before the Sinulog grand parade. Before President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of the girl’s boyfriend and her companions at the event. And before authorities unveiled the matrix of the Ecstasy distribution channel in Metro Cebu.

And what an unveiling it was.

Imagine, a 15-member Ecstasy ring allegedly headed by a young woman of means.

Police have not released all of their names, only of those who are currently behind bars. So let’s meet them, shall we?

Claude Bernard Pena and Alimocon Didaton were both arrested on Jan. 19 last year. Both are detained in the Cebu City Jail. Businessmen Neil Benjamin Eugenio Yap and Richard Ngo Go were also nabbed in January last year. The report didn’t say what happened to them. Maybe the two posted bail. Maybe they’re already out of the country.

But not Kenneth Dong. One of the former owners of Liv Super Club in Mandaue City was just arrested in Muntinlupa earlier this month. He was tagged as the middleman in the P6.4-billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs in May 2017.

Police Regional Office 7 Director Debold Sinas described the unnamed female suppliers of Ecstasy tablets, including the Big Boss, as members of the “alta sociedad (high society).” Not only are they wealthy, he said, they also own legitimate businesses.

Well, they have to be, don’t they? After all, Ecstasy is not manufactured locally. It has to be imported from Europe.

I have to admit, I find the idea of a female socialite heading the local Ecstasy ring distasteful. The fact that she handles it like a multi-level marketing company, what with the other players as her “downline,” makes it even more sinister and downright cold-blooded because, let’s face it, they’re selling this stuff to teenagers.

And apparently, that’s okay with them. As long as they rake in the cash. After all, they’re not the ones grieving the loss of a daughter or worrying about the future of a son.

Not yet, anyway.


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