|Ecstacy pills in the markets. Credit: bar.wikipedia.org|
This developed after the law enforcers received reliable tips from concerned individuals that led them to their posh condominium hideouts in Makati City and a ranch in Lipa City, Batangas, owned by the Leviste family, recently.
The anti-drug operations were conducted by the PNP, Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
According to Atty. Roque Merdegia, chief of the PNP's Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operations Task Force, they had been conducting surveillance operations concerning the movements of a drug dealer in Lipa City, believed to have tie ups with the Mexican-Sinaloa drug cartel, for a long time until they finally caught red handed at least three individuals inside the LPL Ranch in Lipa City, Batangas province. One of the suspects was a Filipino-Chinese national and two caretakers of the ranch.
Former Batangas Gov. Antonio Leviste, who just got a pardon from the Bureau of Prisons in Muntinlupa City, has denied any knowledge of what the group was doing inside the family's ranch. Tony Leviste said he was aware that they're renting the place for raising and breeding cocks for cock-fighting purposes.
Merdegia said in a television interview that his operatives are now running after a certain Jorge Torres, who is believed to be a Filipino-American living in Ontario, California. The police have suspected that Torres was the one who had connections with the Mexican drug cartel and was responsible for establishing connections with a Chinese group in the Philippines.
"Once he is arrested in California, perhaps, he could shed more light on some of the illegal drug operations in the Philippines," Merdegia said.
On the one hand, the NBI operatives who raided the condo units in the cities of Makati and Taguig, claimed that they had a hard time arresting the suspects due to the non-cooperation of the security guards and administrators of the buildings where the suspects resided.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer said the combined operatives seized from the suspects cocaine and ecstacy ills valued at P100 million during the raids at the Luxe Residences and One Serendra in Bonifacio Global City, and on Gramercy Residence in Makati City.
Those arrested at The Luxe Residences were identified as Barry Espadilla and Tristan Olazo, a Canadian and Filipino nationals, respectively; and a certain Tara Leanne Hadden-White who was arrested at One Serendra. Canadian James Riach, Filipino Gibson Arca and Iranian-Canadian Ali Shirazi were arrested
in the raid on Gramercy Residence.
NBI Supervising Agent Eric Isidoro claimed that the latest modos operandi of the group is to rent exclusive condo units where security guards are posted to prevent law enforcers from pouncing on them during raids. Isidoro believed that they're now coming out with a variety of repackaged pills to mislead authorities from detecting them while they're being peddled in the domestic market.
Authorities have strong suspicions that with the all-out-war being waged in Europe and the United States, big time illegal drugs peddlers are now putting their eyes on establishing big markets in the Asia-pacific region, especially in Metro Manila where big casinos and resort hotels are taking shape to alter the skylines of Metro Manila.
Isidoro said that among the primary targets of these illegal drug peddlers are the high rollers at the casinos, especially those foreigners, who are always ooking for something to keep them awake all night.