Metro Manila, July 17, 2003 By Non Alquitran (Star) Transnational drug syndicates are starting to feel the heat from the government’s renewed campaign against the illegal drug trade.

Three of the 13 syndicates operating in the country are now believed to have been neutralized following successive raids on four shabu laboratories in Cavite and Metro Manila.

Deputy Director General Edgar Aglipay, head of the PNP’s Anti-Drug and Special Operations Task Force (AID-SOTF), reported that three transnational groups listed as priority targets earlier transferred their chemical precursors and advanced shabu-making equipment from Central Luzon and northern Metro Manila to southern Metro Manila after President Arroyo declared an all-out war against illegal drugs last month.

The various transnational groups were forced to transfer their operations to clandestine shabu laboratories and warehouses in Metro Manila and the Calabarzon area. These laboratories were eventually raided, resulting in the seizure of chemicals and various equipment.

"The AID-SOTF was able to make a serious dent and placed off balance the operations of at least three of the 13 transnational drug groups operating in the country," said Aglipay in his report to Director Anselmo Avenido, head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Superintendent Federico Laciste, one of the team leaders of the AID-SOTF, refused to identify the members of the three big-time drug syndicates pending follow-up operations.

"The names of the drug personalities belonging to these groups are temporarily withheld pending the conduct of follow-up operations," Laciste said.

However, he admitted they are now zeroing in on a certain Benito Sze alias Benito Sy, who has been tagged as behind the operations of the raided shabu laboratories in Cavite, Las Piñas, Parañaque City and Quezon City.

The shabu laboratories were discovered following a powerful explosion at a residential area in Silang, Cavite last July 12. Six people, four of them Chinese nationals, were arrested and millions of pesos worth of equipment and raw materials for the manufacture of shabu were discovered.

The three other shabu laboratories were traced by Laciste and his men through a receipt bearing Sy’s name which was recovered in Cavite. Laciste and his men later found out the locations of the other laboratories.

Aglipay said they are readying appropriate criminal charges against those involved in the operations of the four shabu laboratories, including Sy.

Meanwhile, Metro police chief Deputy Director General Reynaldo Velasco said the discovery of the three shabu laboratories in the metropolis upped the total drug haul of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) to P4.9 billion.

"Closer coordination among law enforcement agencies produces better results in the anti-narcotics campaign," said Velasco as he cited the role of President Arroyo in unifying all police and local government units to consolidate their offensive as a singular potent force against illegal drugs.

For the first half of the month, the NCRPO conducted 106 operations leading to the arrest of 129 drug offenders and the seizure of P1 billion worth of shabu, marijuana, and shabu-manufacturing equipment. A total of 96 cases have been filed in various courts.

From August last year to June 2003, the NCRPO confiscated some P3.9 billion worth of illegal drugs and drug manufacturing equipment representing 80 percent of the P4.6 billion reported by the PDEA. "With President Arroyo as the main orchestrator, the sustained anti-illegal drug campaign in Metro Manila will continue as part of the overall effort to weed out the source of the drug supply not only in the metropolis but also in other parts of the country," said Velasco.

The biggest accomplishments notched by the NCRPO so far include: the discovery of a shabu laboratory at 5 Elvica Compound, Malinis street, Lawang Bato, Valenzuela City on Dec. 9 last year where 656 kilos of shabu with an estimated street value of P2.2 billion was seized; the raid in Parañaque City on Nov. 1, 2002 were some 68 kilos of ephedrine, the primary ingredient in the manufacture of shabu, and 40 grams of shabu were confiscated.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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