The arrest was made during a raid Friday afternoon in the boundary of barangays Kalasuyan and Mateo.
Of the eight, two were released after police intelligence operatives found they had nothing to do with the crime.
Chief Insp. Leo Ajero, officer-in-charge of the Kidapawan City Police, identified the suspects as Allan Ansabo, Willy Ansabo, Rudy Sambino; Roberto Mobilao — Manobo from Barangay Malibatuan, Arakan Valley in North Cotabato; and Joel Cayo and Romy Nanola, both residents of Kidapawan City.
The raid was conducted by elements of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) of the 39th Infantry Battalion and investigation and intelligence operatives of the Kidapawan City police led by Insp. Benjamin Mauricio.
Recovered from the suspects were four “gold” bars made of lead, weighing 16 kilos; two motorcycles used to ferry the suspects, and marked money.
The “gold” bars, according to Ajero, were sold as much as half a million pesos to a rich businessman who turned out to be a member of the 39th IB. The soldier, who asked not to be identified, acted as a rich buyer and said that the negotiations started a week ago.
The initial payment was pegged at P250T, according to the soldier.
When the payment for the bars was set Friday morning, the soldier sought help of the 39th IB’s ISAFP and the PNP operatives here to conduct the raid.
During the raid, however, two of the leaders of the group identified only as Gary and Larry, eluded arrest.
Ajero theorized the suspects belong to a big syndicate operating not only in North Cotabato, but also in Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, and South Cotabato.
The soldier, in an interview over DXND, said a police officer from Davao City was victimized by the group sometime in May. He was reported to have paid the group some P50T and gave as collateral his two pistols to get one gold bar, which turned out to be a fake.
Ajero said they are now preparing estafa charges against the suspects. (Malu