MILITARY and police forces have arrested in a raid four crime syndicate members in Zamboanga Sibugay province, officials announced.
Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, identified the arrested syndicate members as follows: Usman Esmail Balimbingan; 53; Toto Lawadin Balimbingan, 55; Mujahid Sensi Balimbingan, 33; and, Alih Sensi Balimbingan.
Vinluan said the operatives, armed with a search warrant, swooped down the hideout of the Balimbingan crime group around 5 a.m. Tuesday in Purok 3, Tighabon village, Malangas, Zamboanga Sibugay, that resulted in the arrest of the four suspects.
Vinluan said recovered from the suspects were an M-16 Armalite rifle, a KG9 sub-machine gun, and four caliber .45 pistols as well as magazines, ammunition and other paraphernalia.
Brigadier General Leonel Nicolas, 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the Balimbingan group is involved in piracy, extortion, gun running, kidnapping, and illegal drug trade in the region.
Captain Edwin Duco, Police Regional Office-Zamboanga Peninsula information officer, said Usman is the sub-leader of the crime group and is the financier in the kidnapping of Laarni Buen in March 2018.
The suspects, recovered firearms and other items were taken to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group office in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay in preparation for the filing of charges.
“We will continue to intensify our intelligence and focused operations to eliminate all terrorists and lawless elements in our area of operation,” Vinluan said.
Major General Generoso Ponio, 1st Infantry Division commander, has commended the operating troops for the successful operation.
“Let us continue to tread the road towards peace together,” Ponio said. (SunStar Zamboanga)