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PDEA regional chief Roybel Sanchez

PDEA regional chief Roybel Sanchez

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

HOW do you infiltrate a group of affluent drug pushers and users frequenting a popular leisure strip in Iloilo City? 

For more than a year, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-6) has been trying to penetrate the illegal drugs ring operating in Smallvile business and leisure park in Mandurriao district.

Supt. Roybel Sanchez, PDEA-6 regional director, said they have confirmed the selling of illegal drugs, particularly marijuana and Ecstasy, at Smallville after two successful test buys.

Sanchez said they tried to go deeper into the syndicate’s operations “but their modus operandi defied our usual approaches.”

“They only deal on the basis of familiarity. If they don’t know you, they will not even talk to you. And they scrutinize if you have the capability to buy or a rich guy,” Sanchez said.

Another problem that hindered PDEA from busting the illegal drug ring is the presence of spotters who monitor intelligence officers.

Sanchez said Smallville pushers maintain a big network of waiters, security guards and employees who help smoke out authorities conducting surveillance operations.

“Unlike our usual operations where we can use just any asset, the case of Smallville needs someone who is familiar to these suspects and a young professional. But who among our professionals is willing to work for us?” Sanchez added.

The PDEA confirmed to the City Peace and Order Council the other day that illegal drugs is changing hands inside Smallville.

Shabu is sold in the popular leisure strip at P10,000 to P12,000 per gram while a gram of marijuana costs P30 or P15,000 per kilo.

The designer drug methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) commonly known as “Ecstasy” can be bought at P1,800 a tablet.

Smallville is home to numerous bars and hotels that have become “hot night spots” in the city. The area is frequented by teenagers and young professionals.

The leisure strip is usually active on weekends and holidays although two to three establishments are considered the most popular.

Smallville is located near suspected drug havens in Brgys. Bakhaw and Taft North also in Mandurriao district.

Sanchez said the sale usually happens inside the establishments or in cars parked in dark portions of the strip.

The PDEA chief said they released the information on the Smallville drug ring “para mabulabog sila (to smoke them out).”

“We can consider the problem as a bit rampant but we continue to monitor and try to bust them,” he added.

Another major problem the anti-illegal drugs agency encountered is that syndicates are also trying to identify or profile their personnel and assets.

“We have new personnel here but we are not exposing them too much in the field because the other side is also trying to profile us. They even have blown up pictures of some PDEA personnel,” Sanchez averred.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas will meet with the management of Smallville establishments today to discuss the problem and hammer out possible solutions.

Treñas said admitting the presence of the drug ring will help the city government and law enforcement units address the menace before it worsens.

“I don’t think this will setback the growth of that area,” Treñas said. 

The Iloilo Hotels Restaurants and Resorts Association headed by Robert Ferrer also assured that their members are doing their share to prevent illegal drugs from penetrating into their businesses.

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