DID a rival in the illegal drug trade order businessman Jaime Villaceran killed?

Police investigators are verifying information from a witness who said that one of those who shot to death Villaceran is a member of an illegal drug syndicate.

But Senior Insp. Elisandro Quijano, homicide section chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said that they find it difficult to investigate the motive of the crime because Villaceran’s family did not turn over the businessman’s mobile phone to the police.

Villaceran’s family dismissed speculations that the victim was involved in the illegal drug trade, Quijano said.

Last Tuesday morning, two men on a motorcycle shot Villaceran several times inside his vehicle, which stopped at the intersection of Colon St. and Osmeña Blvd.

Cebu City Intelligence Branch Chief Romeo Santander said that a witness gave police the name of a person who had been arrested for murder and illegal drug charges.

He said that the police showed the person’s photo to Villaceran’s neighbors in Barangay Lorega-San Miguel.

Nakamay-ong sila kay prior to the ambush, magsuroy-suroy kuno ni sa ilang dapit (Neighbors say the man in the photo is familiar,” Santander said.

Santander said that the Villaceran family is yet to give word about the man in the photograph.

Villaceran owned a pork and chicharon distribution business. He also owned a money lending business.

But Santander said Villaceran, 36, was in their watch list of illegal drug personalities.

Police found guns, more than P220,000 in cash and notebooks containing names inside Villaceran’s vehicle.

In a related development, Police Station 5 Chief Noel Lomente said that the shooting occurred in front of a beat patrol stand, but the policeman assigned to the area was sent for training that day.

The policeman assigned to the next beat patrol stand, located at the corner of Osmeña Blvd. and Sanciangko St., did not see the shooting.

Lomente said that three policemen who were from the area responded quickly but they failed to arrest the suspects.

He said that more police personnel are assigned to the Colon area.

“The Colon area is our priority for the deployment of personnel because we know how busy (it is),” he said, adding that many petty crimes occur in Colon.

Lomente said that the footage from closed-circuit television cameras of establishments and Cebu City Hall failed to capture the shooting.

Most of the videos showed only the sidewalk near the establishments, he said.

Senior Supt. Marciano Batiancela Jr., officer-in-charge of the CCPO, said he will find a way to beef up the police patrol in Colon and surrounding areas. He said that the CCPO increased the number of police personnel patrolling the Colon area at night and during weekends.