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22 big-time shabu dealers nabbed in Maguindanao, North Cotabato

Two followers of notorious drug peddler Mangiging Pandian, who was also arrested along with his 10 followers, in Pikit town in North Cotabato province. Philstar.com/John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Twenty two large-scale drug traffickers were arrested in two days of separate joint police-military operations in the neighboring Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces.

North Cotabato is in Region 12 while Maguindanao is a component province of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello, Maguindanao’s police director, on Saturday said 11 drug dealers operating in Parang town were arrested in a series of operations from March 16 to 17.

He said the operations were covered by separate written imprimaturs from local courts, carried out after three weeks of planning and surveillance initiated by covert agents.

The operations resulted to the arrest of wanted drug dealers Reinton Amor, Michael Tactaquin, Akmad Baulo, Reymark Ipili, Luis Tomas, Acmad Lacoto, Ritchie Salazar, Henry Salazar, Akmad Lacoto, Norodin Pasawiran and Cocoy Abat.

Local officials said the suspects distributed methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) in Barangays Making and Sarmiento.

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Both barangays are largely populated areas in Parang town in the first district of Maguindanao.

Tello said the teams that arrested the 11 suspects recovered from them shabu and firearms.

Shabu and drug paraphernalia seized during the drug sting in Pikit, North Cotabato. Philstar.com/John Unson

“We are thankful to the local officials and barangay leaders who helped us locate them. The long hand of law finally reached them,” Tello said.

The arrest of the 11 suspects brought to 50 the number of drug dealers nabbed in one sting after another following Tello’s assumption as police director of Maguindanao in December 2016.

The police also succeeded in neutralizing on Friday a large drug trafficking syndicate in Barangay Dalengawen in Pikit, North Cotabato.

Superintendent Romeo Galgo Jr., spokesman of the Regional Police Office-12, said personnel of the Pikit municipal police, backed by members of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, arrested Mangiging Pandian and his ten followers in the operation.

A brief firefight between gunmen in the village identified with Mangiging and the raiding team ensued as they pursued two of his men who escaped to southwest of Barangay Delawangen.

Witnesses confirmed having seen them carry two blue bags, believed to contain shabu, they fled.

Galgo said the operation that led to the arrest of Mangigin was also aided by barangay leaders and local officials in Pikit.

He said the Pikit municipal police will continue to hunt down the two cohorts of Mangigin who eluded arrest.

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