Businessman Steve Pasion poses with a pistol in a photo taken from Facebook.
Businessman slain in PDEA operation
Rey Galupo, Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - March 13, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A suspected large-scale dealer of party drugs in Metro Manila was killed by officers from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in an alleged shootout in Manila on Monday.

Businessman Steve Pasion, whose clients include celebrities, was about to be arrested after a sting when he allegedly grabbed the handgun of an anti-narcotics agent, which prompted other officers to shoot him.

Director Levi Ortiz, who heads the PDEA’s Special Enforcement Service (SES), said the drug bust happened at the parking area of the Amaia Skies condominium in Barangay 310, Sta. Cruz at around 10:45 p.m.

“He was really determined to fight our operatives,” he said in a news briefing yesterday.

The suspect’s girlfriend, 26-year-old part-time model Irene Mercado, was arrested in the operation.

Ortiz said 23 tablets of the party drug ecstasy worth P30,000 and 50 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu with an estimated street value of P340,000 were seized from Pasion.

A search of Pasion’s condominium unit at around 2:30 a.m. yesterday led to the recovery of a kilo of shabu worth P6 million, three bottles of liquid ecstasy worth P75,000 and assorted drug paraphernalia.

Based on their investigation, Ortiz said Pasion earned about P1 million a week by buying drugs in Europe and then smuggling them into the country.

Ortiz said the suspect has been on their radar for over several years – he was reportedly the largest supplier of party drugs in Metro Manila and catered to models, actors and young professionals.

“He had several businesses, tea houses, restaurants, which he used as cover. The proceeds of his drug trades are siphoned by his businesses and the money trail is lost,” Ortiz told The STAR.

Among Pasion’s clients – based on his cell phone records – are two celebrities, a man and a woman, who are now the subjects of an investigation, Ortiz said. He refused to name them, but noted that there was an instance the two bought around 200 ecstasy tablets.

Pasion also documented his sexual orgies with different women under the influence of drugs on his cell phone, Ortiz said.

The businessman also reportedly wanted to be the “Pablo Escobar of the Philippines,” according to Ortiz. The Colombian drug lord was shot dead by police in 1993.

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