Drug labs in BGC, Makati condos raided

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) swooped down on drug laboratories in condominium units in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig and Makati yesterday.

Two Filipino-Canadians and another suspect allegedly linked to a Mexican drug cartel were arrested after the NBI operatives raided a condominium in BGC.

Filipino-Canadians Barry Espadilla and Tristan Olazo and Canadian-Iranian James Riach are believed to be members of a big-time drug syndicate, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

De Lima said the NBI, which is under the supervision of the Department of Justice (DOJ), arrested the three in a kitchen-type drug laboratory at Unit 301 of the Luxe Residences on 28th street.

“This is not just a shabu kitchen laboratory. They also produce NBMA, a stimulant similar to ecstasy and cocaine, ” NBI anti-illegal drug chief Eric Isodoro said.

Seized from the condo were cocaine, shabu and ecstacy tablets worth at least P100 million. The NBI operatives also confiscated drug paraphernalia like heaters, sealers, weighing scale and other laboratory equipment.

 â€œBased on investigation, the syndicate has been operating in the Philippines for about seven months already,” De Lima told reporters.

 She said President Aquino is interested to know if the suspects have ties with the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico.

 â€œThe NBI could not yet establish if they have links to Sinaloa, although they are more or less certain that these drugs came from Mexico based on their informant,” she added.

 Citing Interpol records, De Lima disclosed that Riach and Espadilla are also members of the dreaded Independent Soldiers gang in Vancouver where they were previously convicted for murder, illegal possession of firearms and illegal drugs.

“So these shady characters have arrived and are now engage in drug trade in Bonifacio Global City. This is alarming,” she said.

The NBI said separate operations were conducted in two condominium units in Serendra and another two in Makati.

Condominium managements should be careful in accepting tenants to make sure their establishments will not be used in illegal drug trade, AIDSOTF spokesman Chief Inspector Roque Merdegia said yesterday.

BGC drug bust lauded

Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano yesterday urged owners and managers of condominiums in BGC to review the screening processes of tenants following the drug bust.

Cayetano asked condo owners to tighten their monitoring of illegal activities in their premises.

“It is the standing policy of the Taguig City government to take a stronger stance against illegal drugs and the criminal syndicates that peddle them within the city,” she said.

The mayor assured Taguig residents and the public that her administration will not tolerate illegal acts and will continue to double the efforts in dismantling criminal syndicates that operate in the city.

“We must remain vigilant against this menace in our society. While I am glad that the NBI and the police are able to dismantle this drug operation, I challenge them to be more aware and to stay on ground against crimes such as this,” she said.

Cayetano lauded the NBI for busting the shabu laboratory in BGC.

“Winning the war against illegal drugs is an essential component in the maintenance of peace and order in Taguig. More than providing a safe haven for the business community to flourish in our city, it is also important in securing our residents against syndicates that prey on the innocent,” she said.

Last December, joint operatives of the Philippine National Police - Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested three drug suspects allegedly linked to the Sinaloa drug ring.

 Seized from the suspects – Chinese Gary Tan and Filipino couple Argay Argenos and Rochelle Argenos – were 84 kilos of shabu worth P420 million during a raid at the LPL Ranch in Lipa, Batangas.

They appeared before the DOJ yesterday during the preliminary investigation on charges of violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act or Republic Act 9165.

Drug suspect charged

Meanwhile, another foreign drug suspect arrested by the NBI was charged before the DOJ yesterday.

Thank God Agu, alleged member of an African drug syndicate, was brought to the office of Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera for inquest proceedings on charges of drug possession.

He was caught carrying high-grade shabu worth P400,000 in Pamplona, Las Piñas City on Tuesday. – With Mike Frialde, Aie Balagtas See, Cecille Suerte Felipe 











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