DRUG BUST AT MELVILLE PARK SUBDIVISIONParanaque, July 15, 2003 By Nikko Dizon (Star) From Cavite to Las Piñas City to Parañaque. Police officials have raided three drug laboratories all registered under the name of one Benito Sy.

And President Arroyo’s drug busters have identified him as a "big fish" in the illegal drug trade whose syndicate could be capable of distributing the poor man’s cocaine nationwide.

Police authorities raided yesterday a shabu laboratory inside a house allegedly being rented by Sy in an upper middle class subdivision in Parañaque City.

The President arrived at 25 New York street, Merville Park Subdivision a few hours after the police raided the bungalow which was converted into a shabu laboratory.

"It appears to me that this is one big syndicate. So do we consider him (Sy) a big fish?" Mrs. Arroyo asked Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose Lina Jr. during a presentation of the chemicals and drug manufacturing equipment after the raid.

Lina answered "yes" to the President’s question.

Anti-Drug Task Force chief Deputy Director General Edgar Aglipay later told reporters that Benito Sy is on the list of drug lords being pursued by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), but said further investigation has to be conducted to confirm if this is the same Benito Sy whose name has been linked to the raided shabu laboratories in Parañaque, Las Piñas, and Silang, Cavite.

Nevertheless, police are now conducting a manhunt operation for the suspect.

Authorities noted that Sy’s drug syndicate could be supplying shabu nationwide. A ranking police official said it was interesting that Sy’s name kept on cropping up in the raids being conducted by authorities as well as in intelligence reports on drug laboratories that were located as far as Northern Luzon and Mindanao.

President Arroyo again commended the police for a job well done for the series of raids they conducted on clandestine drug laboratories in a short span of time. The President also inspected the drug laboratories discovered in Silang and Las Piñas over the weekend.

The drug laboratories in Parañaque and Silang are believed to be "franchises" of the one in Las Piñas, which was being used by the syndicate as its "motorpool."

A well-placed source told The STAR that ephedrine, the main ingredient in the manufacture of shabu was missing in all three raided laboratories, and is believed being kept somewhere in Quezon City. The Anti-Drug Task Force is now conducting follow-up operations in search of the missing ephedrine.

With the discovery of three drug laboratories allegedly under Sy’s command, authorities noted that drug syndicates have started to "decentralize" their operations to keep business running even if authorities bust one of their laboratories.

President Arroyo noted that this Thursday, a Las Piñas City judge would visit the industrial warehouse on Impex Compound to examine the ingredients and materials used for manufacturing shabu.

"The law enforcers and drug courts are important components of the (anti-drugs) campaign. We should beef up the criminal justice system — from the police to prosecution to rehabilitation (of drug users). It is a comprehensive effort that we should take to go after the big fishes," Mrs. Arroyo said.

Armed with a search warrant issued by Parañaque Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) Executive Judge Jansen Rodriguez, lawmen raided the shabu laboratory at around noon.

Top police officials were joined by Parañaque Mayor Joey Marquez, Rep. Eduardo Zialcita, and Barangay Merville chairwoman Gloria Gutierrez.

Lina said the laboratory was capable of producing at least five kilos a day of shabu. It was reportedly in operation for at least two months before the raid.

The house was empty but its occupants apparently left in haste over the weekend as clothes and other belongings, including children’s toys, were left in disarray. Police suspected that the occupants were alerted by the discovery of the drug laboratory in Silang last Friday.

Police recovered several bottles of ethanol and acetone, rusty drums and industrial motors, two blenders, aluminum foil, drug residues, a roll of negatives, a map from Taiwan to the Philippines, a computer unit, printer, and CPU inside the house. Investigators said information stored at the computer would be decoded and hoped that it would yield more leads.

A small room at the back of the house is where the shabu is being manufactured.

Neighbors said a certain Ben Sy rented the house from the owner identified as Emilio Dillera a few months ago.

They said they never noticed any suspicious activities although the next door neighbor told investigators yesterday that they sometimes smelled a pungent odor coming from the backyard. – With Jaime Laude, Non Alquitran

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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