GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 December) – Police operatives have arrested an alleged chemist who had been tagged as behind the operations of a suspected mini-shabu laboratory that was uncovered at an outskirt village here last year, a police official said Tuesday.
Senior Supt. Willie Dangane, operations officer of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO)-Western Mindanao, identified the suspect as Ramil Saan alias “Doctor,” who has a standing warrant of arrest for alleged manufacture of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu at an underground drug laboratory in Barangay San Isidro here.
Dangane said they nabbed Saan and his alleged cohort identified as Ali Akbar Ismael after they emerged aboard a white van from a compound of a machine shop located along the national highway in Barangay Apopong at past 1 p.m. on Monday.
“They came there to claim a fabricated hydrogenator that appears intended for shabu-making,” the police official said.
He said the hydrogenator, which is reportedly used in mixing chemicals and “cooking” shabu ingredients, was similar to one of the supposed shabu-making equipment that were recovered by joint police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) elements in a raid on the drug laboratory at the 3rd Block of Naval Subdivision in Barangay San Isidro on October 20 last year.
The busted mini-shabu laboratory, which was the first ever to be discovered in the city, yielded some 300 grams of manufactured suspected shabu that was reportedly worth around P20 million.
Dangane said Saan was positively identified by several witnesses as among the four persons who directly run the alleged drug laboratory, which fronted as a soy sauce factory.
He said the suspect went missing after the raid but emerged in Cotabato City several months ago using the name Joselito Chua.
Dangane said an informant in Cotabato City has tipped them about the movements of Saan, who supposedly appears to be setting up another drug laboratory in the area.
On Monday morning, he said they got a tip that Saan was seen somewhere in Cotabato City and was reportedly headed to this city aboard a white Toyota Super Grandia van.
The police official said they immediately dispatched an alarm regarding the vehicle and were later informed that it was seen around past noon entering the compound of the Vercide Engineering Works here.
Dangane said they immediately went to the area and arrested Saan and Ismael, who was driving the van, after they came out of the machine shop.
In an interview with reporters at the DIPO-Western Mindanao headquarters here, Saan admitted that he and his two other partners had leased a house in Naval Subdivision in Barangay San Isidro but insisted that they only used it for their soy sauce-making venture.
He said the soy sauce business, which was reportedly a joint venture with a financier from this city and another from Marawi City, only lasted for about four months due to capitalization problems and disagreements over a profit-sharing scheme.
“The PDEA raid happened three months after we ceased our operations and abandoned the place. So it was all a setup,” Saan said.
But the suspect admitted that he was a “shabu user” and was familiar with the procedures in manufacturing the illegal drug supposedly being a trained chemist and the availability of such information in the Internet.
For his part, Ismael claimed that he was not aware of Saan’s activities and that his vehicle was only contracted by the latter for some transactions here.
“I was just the van’s driver. I personally don’t know him since we only met this morning,” he said.
But Dangane said they recovered some documents from the possession of the two suspects that detailed some prior transactions between them.
He said they recovered money transfer receipts bearing the names of Ismael and Saan as well receipts for the purchase of some chemicals from a hardware in Davao City.
Dangane said they are currently gathering additional evidences against the suspects for the filing of additional charges against them.
“Our investigation is presently ongoing and we’re looking into the possible involvement of these suspects in other drug-related and criminal activities in the region,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)