A JOINT effort by law enforcers led them to a suspected drug lord in Barangay Inayawan, Cebu City yesterday, an elusive target they’ve been going after for several years.
Darwin Tibay, 48, was arrested inside his house during a buy-bust at 12 p.m. Police said he distributed one kilo of shabu per week.
He was also among five alleged drug lords in the city that law enforcers have been trying to track down, said Supt. Romeo Santander, City Intelligence Branch (CIB) chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).
One thing that piqued the interest of law enforcers yesterday was Tibay’s new look. He now wears his hair straight (and dyed gold), is more slender and has an improved nose, making him look younger than in his photo the police have kept all these years.
Police launched yesterday’s operation after learning from an informant that Tibay was sighted in his house in Sitio Torre, located at the back of Inayawan Elementary School. He was hard to pin down because he transferred from one place to another, police said.
After confirming Tibay was there, a police decoy bought P1,000 worth of shabu from him. That’s what led to his arrest.
Confiscated from Tibay were 91 small packs and two medium packs of what appeared to be shabu, estimated to be worth P120,000 out in the streets.
These will be brought to the PNP Regional Crime Laboratory Office 7 for analysis.
Santander said they have been running after Tibay for several years. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7 made a comprehensive operation plan and set a budget to go after Tibay.
Santander said this was the first time that law enforcers caught an alleged drug lord in recent years, which could inflict a major blow on the illegal drug trade.
Santander said they have also learned that gang members who shot and wounded two of CIB’s operatives this month were reportedly working for Tibay.
With Tibay’s arrest, he expects the peace and order situation in Barangay Inayawan to improve dramatically. Apart from Barangay Inayawan and Pardo, towns in Cebu Province were also reached by Tibay’s operations, Santander said.
The suspect is believed to get his supply from a group called the “Munti Boys”, which operates upon the instructions of other drug personalities in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
During the press briefing, Joel Garganera, executive vice president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) in Cebu City, attributed the accomplishment to the public’s cooperation.
“Ang pagsalig sa kapulisan naabot na. Daghan na kaayo tag information nadawat gikan sa publiko (The people trust the police. We have received so much information from the public),” he said.
Senior Supt. Marciano Batiancela Jr., officer-in-charge (OIC) of CCPO, said he hoped that the public’s cooperation will continue.
“Maski through text, we will take action (We will even act on information sent to us by text),” he said.
Tibay, when interviewed by reporters, claimed he used to be a drug lord but that he has left the trade.
“Sa una seguro (Maybe before),” he said. He said he now makes a living operating some passenger jeepneys.
Tibay, a father of five, said he went to Manila last August to hide after learning that the police were keeping tabs on him. He came back to Cebu in January.
Tibay denied owning the drugs seized from him and suggested these were planted. He said he was at home lounging on the second floor when the police stormed inside his house.
Last June 12, 2014, the police conducted a buy-bust on Tibay in Barangay Inayawan, but he eluded arrest. Instead, the police caught eight persons and recovered almost P400,000 worth of marijuana and shabu packs.
This year, the police again went after him in another buy-bust in Barangay Sambag II on Feb. 6. He again slipped away.
Last March 10, the police caught brothers Nelson and Niel Tibay in another operation. The police couldn’t confirm if the three are related.
In a separate operation, police arrested a suspected member of a big-time robbery gang in northern Cebu City.
SPO1 Rey Solante of the Cebu Provincial Police Office’s (CPPO) intelligence branch identified the person as Wendel Booc Araneta, whom they arrested in Barangay Banban, Bogo City last Sunday morning.
He said Araneta is the right-hand man of Joel Sumabong, whom the police arrested in an anti-drug operation last January.
Sumabong had been charged in court for allegedly leading a bank robbery in Bogo City in 2005, but was eventually acquitted.
Solante said they confiscated two big packs of what appeared to be shabu worth P118,000 and drug paraphernalia from Araneta.
A .45 pistol with a magazine containing six bullets, drug paraphernalia, a cell phone, and a gun holster were also seized.
Araneta, police alleged, was involved in the death of a police asset last week and in the strafing incident that injured a retired police officer in Bogo City in 2012.
Police also arrested two suspected drug pushers in separate operations in Borbon and Pinamungahan last Monday.
Desidito Presillas, 44, was caught in Barangay Bili, Borbon at 4:30 a.m. More than an hour later, Renato Bagahansol, 54, was collared in Barangay Poblacion, Pinamungahan.
Seized from the suspects were five packs of what the police believed was shabu and drug paraphernalia.