THE Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas is tracing the links of a suspected drug pusher, the son of a former public official, with suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
Roderic James Palermo Espina, 54, was caught inside a room of a pension house on Gen. Echavez St., Barangay Lorega-San Miguel, Cebu City past 4 a.m. Wednesday.
Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, the PRO-Central Visayas director, said the police had received reports the suspect smuggled illegal drugs into Cebu.
“Accordingly, ito’y isang bata ni Kerwin Espinosa. Dito nga nag o-operate sa Cebu area (He’s said to be one of Kerwin Espinosa’s underlings. He operates in Cebu),” Taliño said.
The suspect, who identified himself as the son of late Maasin City, Southern Leyte Mayor Edagarino Espina, denied working for Espinosa, whose father Rolando is the mayor of Albuera, Leyte.
Espina is reportedly facing an attempted homicide case, but the police still has to check this information.
He admitted he used drugs and lived in the pension house after a spat with his wife. They are in the process of getting their marriage annulled, added Espina.
“Nagplano nako nga mo-surrender inig uli nako sa amoa kay si Duterte naman ang president (I’ve been planning to surrender as soon as I get back home, now that Rodrigo Duterte is the president),” said Espina.
The suspect also denied he knew Espinosa personally, saying he was only a user and often hired people to buy illegal drugs for him near A. Lopez and Villagonzalo Sts. in Cebu City.
“Sus, bisan pa ipaubos ko sa lie detector test wala gyud ko ana. Dili mi kaila anang Kerwin, oy. Pastilan, kalayo anang amoa sa Albuera. Mogamit ra ko. Kanang nakuha sa akoa ako ra nang gamiton. Dili ko mamaligya (I’ll take a lie detector test to prove I don’t know Kerwin. We live far from Albuera. I do use drugs. The drugs seized from me were for my consumption. But I don’t sell drugs),” said Espina, who was teary-eyed in an interview with reporters.
Several firearms, packs believed to contain shabu, cash, a laptop, and other devices were seized from him.
Espina has been staying in the pension house since February after a marital problem. He pays P19,000 to P20,000 per month.
When asked where he got the money to pay for the bills, the suspect said he had sold a piece of land in Leyte and used the proceeds to pay his pension house bills.
Espina has four children with his wife and they have a house in Barangay Lahug. He added that he came to Cebu in the 1980s.
The pension house’s management started to doubt him when he would not allow any workers to clean the room, which is located on the sixth floor.
He also received his meals at the door.
More often than not, his visitors in the past six months were women, and the police are in the process of identifying them.
The management decided to ask for help from the police after the suspect bragged he has connections with Espinosa.
Before the arrest, operatives of the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) planned a buy-bust.
When the suspect opened the door yesterday to receive the food delivered to him, an operative saw in plain view the contraband. The team then barged inside the room and arrested the suspect.
Seized from him were a medium pack containing white crystals believed to shabu, 15 burned marijuana sticks, drug-sniffing devices, a .45 pistol, .22 Magnum revolver, a laptop, cellular phone, and more than P9,000 cash.
Combined, the shabu and marijuana weighed 31.8 grams and have an estimated value of P58,045.
Complaints of illegal possession of firearms and violating Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, will be filed against Espina before the Office of the City Prosecutor.