GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 Oct) – Government anti-drug personnel seized some P20 million worth of equipment and chemicals allegedly used in manufacturing metamphetamine hydrocholoride or shabu following the discovery Wednesday of a mini-shabu laboratory at an outskirt village in the city.
Intelligence Officer 5 Felimon Yogi Ruiz, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Region 12 director, said they uncovered the shabu laboratory and some 300 grams of “cooked” shabu worth around P3 million in a raid before noon Wednesday on an abandoned house located along Conel Road, Naval Subdivision in Barangay San Isidro here.
He said they launched the raid after several weeks of surveillance on the house, which was reportedly tipped off earlier by one of their local informants.
“This is the first-ever shabu laboratory found here and so far the biggest illegal drug bust in the region in years,” he declared.
Ruiz said they recovered during the raid various laboratory equipment, which includes a hydrogenator or chemical mixer, and at least 23 types of chemicals and substances that are reportedly used mainly for making shabu.
He said the seized chemicals include magnesium sulfate, sodium acetate, potassium chloride, sodium benzoate and muriatic acid.
“There’s no other use for these chemicals and equipment except for cooking shabu,” Ruiz told reporters.
The double-walled facility has an airconditioned laboratory area and living quarters. Its walls also have some peeping holes that were supposedly used for surveillance purposes.
The house, which was owned by a certain Isidro Mejia, was rented about four months ago by a certain Ramil who was supposedly setting up a soy sauce factory in the area.
In an interview with reporters, Mejia said another person who claimed to be a doctor reportedly paid him an advance payment for a two-month lease of the house.
He said at least four persons later moved into the house and “operated” the supposed soy sauce factory.
Citing recovered materials, Ruiz said the uncovered shabu laboratory is considered a “kitchen-type” facility or used in clandestine drug-making operations.
He said such kind of operation is usually difficult to track down as their operators are usually mobile.
“Based on our initial assessment, this laboratory can produce 500 grams to a kilo of shabu on a daily basis,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz said they failed to arrest any suspect during the raid but said they already identified at least three persons who were directly behind the establishment of the drug-making facility.
He said they also recovered a notebook that supposedly contained the names of possible clients and suppliers of the suspects, which appears to be part of a well-financed and well-organized drug syndicate.
“We already have the names of three suspects and initially identified their locations. Our personnel are now tracking them down,” Ruiz said.
City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, who rushed to the area during the raid, expressed alarm over the discovery of the shabu laboratory.
“This is very alarming because it now appears that some of the illegal drug supplies distributed in the city are already manufactured locally,” she said.
Custodio urged local residents, especially barangay officials and community leaders, to be extra vigilant and immediately report any suspicious activities to local authorities to avert any planned illegal activities in the area. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)