CASTRO Barameda Castro II needed money, so he quit his job as a bus conductor and started selling illegal drugs in the southern town of San Fernando, Cebu.

“I was facing financial problems. Also, my wife didn’t have a regular job,” said the father of six.

He said he invested around P6,000 when he purchased his first supply of shabu from a source he did not identify.

The 35-year-old native of Dumanjug, Cebu, though, was arrested yesterday during a buy-bust conducted by a team led by San Fernando Police Station Acting Chief Richard Gadingan.

Seized from his possession were P1.8 million worth of suspected shabu, high-powered firearms, a grenade and drug paraphernalia.

Six visitors to Castro’s alleged drug den in Barangay Bugho were also arrested. They were identified as Mario Aradillos Canoy, 29; Joey Jivera Manano, 33; Warren Jakusalem Jose, 30; Joselito Antipolo Cabasag; Dionesio Canoy Baroman, 39; and Alejandro Paner Omamalin, 31.

Their arrest was the first big operation for Gadingan, following the raid of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 that resulted to the arrest of four persons and the confiscation of P4 million worth of shabu from drug dens behind the police station last Jan. 26.

Senior Supt. Clifford Gairanod, Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) officer-in-charge, said he was glad about the successful operation.

But he clarified that Gadingan and the latter’s personnel are still under investigation following the NBI 7’s operation.

Gadingan, for his part, said he is thankful to the residents who informed them about Castro’s involvement in the illegal drug trade five days ago.

Intelligence operatives had placed Castro under surveillance and they were able to confirm his illegal activity.

He is a new player. He is not included in our watch list,” said Gadingan, whose team still has to check if Castro has a previous criminal record.

Castro, in a separate interview, said he is still new in the drug business, but he refused to divulge when he started.

Gadingan’s team recovered a large pack, 12 medium packs and 103 small packs of white crystals believed to be shabu.

A digital weighing scale, seven cellular phones, a .38 revolver, a .22 revolver, a .357 revolver, a KG-9 submachine gun, bullets, magazines and strips of tin foil with traces of shabu were also found in the suspect’s possession.

There is a possibility that Castro is a member of a gun-for-hire group, according to Gairanod.

Castro denied he is the owners of the firearms, saying they were left to him by friends on loan.

The suspects will be charged with violating Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Separate complaints for illegal possession of firearms, explosive and violation of the election gun ban will also be filed against Castro.