Lipa drug bust tied to Mexico drug ring | Global News
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Lipa drug bust tied to Mexico drug ring

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 03:08 AM December 27, 2013

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The country’s fight against illegal drugs is facing a new formidable nemesis.

A notorious Mexican drug cartel, described by US authorities as the world’s most powerful organized crime group, has traveled across the globe and found its way into the country, the Philippine National Police disclosed on Thursday.

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PNP Director General Alan Purisima said the presence of the Sinaloa drug cartel in the country was confirmed during a raid on a cock farm in Lipa City on Wednesday during which a Filipino couple and a Chinese-Filipino were arrested after weeks of intelligence operations by local and US antinarcotics personnel.

The raid on the LPL Ranch at Barangay Inosluban yielded 84 kilograms of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) with a street value of P400 million.

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“Going after this group will entail more hard work,” Purisima told a news briefing at Camp Crame.

“We have confirmed that the Mexican (drug traffickers) are already here,” said Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, chief of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force.

Along with agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Tobias’ men carried out the operations in Lipa on Christmas Day.

“We have previously received reports that the Mexicans are in the country. But this is the first time we have confirmed that the Mexicans are already here,” Tobias said.

Purisima said it was still unclear how the Sinaloa drug group was able to gain a foothold in the Philippines. He said that the Mexicans were apparently “coordinating with the Chinese.”

“They are in collusion. It’s like a partnership,” he said.

“One of the Mexicans would initially finance the operations and run the illegal business later on. So it’s a process. We know that they are just starting that’s why we have to act immediately to stop them before they can expand their presence,” Purisima said.

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Possibly smuggled

The Chinese-Filipino arrested was identified as Gary Tan and the Filipinos as Argay and Rochelle Argenos, who are said to be caretakers of the drug storage facility in the farm.

Police authorities Thursday night filed illegal possession of drugs and firearms charges against the three who were taken to the Department of Justice for inquest.

Former Batangas Gov. Antonio Leviste on Thursday denied he owned LPL Ranch. His lawyer, Cristina Buendia, said that the so-called ranch is a 100-hectare subdivision divided into one-hectare parcels which had been sold to private individuals, mostly devoted to cock-breeding.

Buendia said that Leviste, who was recently granted parole following his conviction on a murder case, “does not own any parcel, nor have any interest or anything whatsoever to do” with the ranch.

Initial police reports said the drug storage facility was on a property leased by a cock-fighting aficionado, identified as Jorge Torres. Police authorities have reportedly launched a hunt for Torres for possible illegal drug trafficking.

Purisima said the seized contraband was not produced locally and was possibly smuggled into the country through the seaports.

He said the Sinaloa cartel, whose members are also involved in kidnapping, bribery and gun-for-hire activities, took advantage of the country’s porous boundaries.

 

Suspicions

“We are a country of 7,000 islands. If you go down south, you can freely go to Sabah in Malaysia. You don’t even have to go through immigration. You can just go to one island and hop to another using a boat,” he said.

He said the PNP was also checking reports that some customs personnel had been allowing container vans filled with illegal drugs to leave the seaports without being checked and opened as mandated by law.

“We have suspicions, but we do not have evidence yet. There are so many ways of transporting drugs into our country,” he said.

Largest US drug source

The Sinaloa cartel is reputed to be the largest source of illegal drugs to the United States.  Its leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001. He is now America’s most wanted drug trafficker, as well as being considered by Forbes as the most powerful criminal on the planet.

More than 77,000 people have been killed in Mexico in connection with organized crime since then President Felipe Calderon launched a nationwide war against the cartels after taking office in 2006.

At present, PDEA and antidrug operatives already have their hands full going after the dreaded Chinese drug syndicate and the West African group, which is notoriously known for using drug mules in slipping illegal drugs into the country.

Purisima said authorities had estimated that drug traffickers had been earning “billions of pesos” from the illicit drug trade.  With reports from AFP and Christine O. Avendaño

 

 

RELATED STORIES:

Drugs found in Leviste ranch

Mexican drug cartel now in PH–PNP

P400M shabu seized in Batangas drug lab raid

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TAGS: Aidsoft, Barangay Inosluban, Batangas, Drug Raid, Illegal Drugs, Leviste, Lipa City, LPL Ranch, Mexican drug cartel, Mexican drug traffickers, PDEA, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Sinaloa drug cartel
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