Marijuana bricks seized in Isabela
- Jun Elias, Charlie Lagasca () - January 24, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Some 103 kilograms of fully dried marijuana leaves worth at least P3 million have been seized by authorities in northwestern Isabela while they were about to be transported to the National Capital Region Thursday.

Chief Inspector Primitivo Bayungan, head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Cagayan Valley, said that they intercepted the contraband on board a passenger bus along the Isabela-Kalinga border, particularly at Sitio Tubong, Barangay Naganacan in Santa Maria town about 2 p.m.

“The marijuana might have come from Kalinga province and was to be delivered to Metro Manila, had we not intercepted them along the way,” he said.

The confiscation, he said, was the result of surveillance work with the Isabela police, led by Senior Superintendent Jimmy Rivera, provincial police director, of suspected drug traffickers in the region and adjacent areas, including Kalinga where clandestine marijuana plantations are believed to still exist.

“The seized dried marijuana leaves in brick form were concealed in four cigarette boxes on board the (bus’) cargo compartment,” he said.

Reports said the four boxes containing the illegal items were named to one Arnel Viernes, allegedly of Cubao, Quezon City.

However, the anti-drug operatives, who also include elements from the Isabela Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the intelligence section of the Isabela police office, failed to establish the identities of the shippers of the contraband items.

In related developments, the joint elements of policemen, Navy and the PDEA in Region 1, uprooted some P153.8 million worth of marijuana plants in 15 plantation sites in the boundaries of La Union, Ilocos Sur and Benguet.

The three-day uprooting operation, which ended Friday, has resulted to the arrest of Juliano Tapaya, 48, a suspected marijuana cultivator residing in Sapdaan, Santol, La Union.

Two of Tapaya’s companions identified as a certain Wilbert and Washington managed to escape while the operating troops were scouring the area.

The joint report of Col. Roberto Opeña, PDEA regional director, and Chief Superintendent Constante Azares Jr., Ilocos police director, showed that the P153.8 million worth consists of 765,700 fully grown plants, 16, 900 seedlings and 370 grams of marijuana seeds.

Most of the illegal plants were recovered in plantation sites in the boundary of Kibungan, Benguet, Sugpon, Ilocos Sur and Santol, La Union.

The intensified operation against marijuana eradication in the area was contained in the PNP Master Plan Sangbanat and PDEA Oplan “Farmville.”

The troops, which were sent through two helicopters from the Philippine Air Force, is composed of personnel from the PDEA, the Naval Intelligence Service Group in Poro Point, the Regional Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operation Task Group 1, the Regional Public Safety Management Battalion and the La Union police.

ARNEL VIERNES BARANGAY NAGANACAN CAGAYAN VALLEY CHIEF INSPECTOR PRIMITIVO BAYUNGAN CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT CONSTANTE AZARES JR. DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY DRUG SPECIAL OPERATION TASK GROUP ILOCOS SUR AND BENGUET ISABELA LA UNION MARIJUANA
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