ACCORDING to police parlance, “crime does not pay.” And this is what happened to the top drug lord in Cebu and Central Visayas, Jeffrey Diaz, also known in the underworld as “‘Jaguar.” The long arm of the law finally caught up with this elusive and big-time drug personality. But it was not an ordinary arrest, but a fatal encounter with law enforcers. Before he could “spill the beans” about his illegal activities, his cohorts and protectors in the law enforcement agencies, Jaguar and his close aide Paul Vincent Morales were mowed down by a combined team of Regional Intelligence Division (RID) 7, Special Regional Operations Group (RSOG) 7 and the Las Piñas police in an alleged shoutout inside a village in Las Piñas, Metro Manila last Friday night.

The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7-based operatives led by RID Chief Rex Derilo had been  in the National Capital Region (NCR) for weeks to monitor and serve the warrant of arrest against another big-time, Cebu-based drug personality Alvaro “Barok” Alvaro, a part of Diaz’s well-entrenched syndicate, who has been tagged as the mastermind in the killing of Insp. Jonas Tajanlangit in Camotes last April. But in the process of monitoring the activities of Alvaro, the operatives incidentally uncovered a new development. Alvaro had met Jaguar on various occasions in Metro Manila. Jaguar, who based his illegal drug trade here in Cebu, had been on the run after his compound in Duljo-Fatima was raided by police last year. He moved from one place to another.

Derilo told this writer, in a radio interview over dySS last Saturday, that Jaguar had bought several properties in MetroManila and in San Pablo City, Pampanga to serve as his hideouts. He would only stay in one of these properties for a few fours before he transferred to another. That was how elusive Jaguar was. But finally, operatives caught up with him. He was on his way to his hideout in Las Piñas after a night out celebrating the victory of Cleveland Cavaliers against Golden State Warriors Game 6 earlier in the day. He was with Alvaro, but the team that tailed them lost track of them for a while.

Jaguar had just dropped Alvaro in an undisclosed place before the drug suspect was flagged down by Las Piñas police, who were conducting a checkpoint.

When Derilo’s men were about to approach Jaguar’s vehicle, the suspects, armed with high-powered guns, fired at them, prompting them to retaliate. After a brief exchange of gunfire, Jaguar and Morales’s bloodied bodies were on the ground outside the vehicle. A pack of shabu with an estimated value of P1 million, expensive jewelry and firearms were found inside the vehicle.

In an interview with our colleagues at radio dyRF and The Freeman, Jaguar had signified his intention to surrender to authorities in Camp Crame when President-elect Rodrigo Duterte assumes office for fear of his life. He insisted that he was no longer involved in drug-dealing activities and had already reformed upon the advice of his relatives. He even apologized to his “victims” of the illegal drug trade and urged drug users to stop using drugs because it can destroy their lives. But PRO 7 Chief Patrocinio Comendador Jr. said Jaguar’s pronouncement was all “drama” to gain public sympathy. Based on their intelligence gathering, Jaguar’s network of distribution of illegal drugs had expanded to other regions in the Visayas and had already penetrated the NCR market.

Based on intelligence reports, Jaguar’s connection, especially his drug suppliers, were not only based in the country. He had contacts with international drug syndicates. He reportedly was under the protection of some scalawags in the law-enforcement agency. On allegations that Jaguar was killed because some law enforcers are afraid he would reveal his protectors, authorities denied it. Even if Jaguar could name his protectors, they have already been identified and could possibly be the next target, according to my source. Jaguar also had strong connections in the prosecution and judiciary. That’s why he was never charged in court after his conviction. Jaguar was convicted by a lower court here for drug possession. He already served his sentence in the National Bilibid Prison but the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision.

Jaguar was well-loved by his neighbors in Duljo as he was generous to them. Jaguar gave money, medicines and food to people who approached him. That was why he was being protected. People didn’t mind where his money came from as long as they benefited from his generosity. But everything in this world must come to an end. Jaguar could be a “hero” to some but was a menace to society because he was a “merchant of death” for being a drug lord. Indeed, crime does not pay.