8 suspected drug pushers nabbed in GenSan raid

GENERAL SANTOS CITY  (MindaNews/09 June) —  Police operatives arrested eight alleged notorious illegal drug pushers and runners in a raid on three crowded communities near the city’s downtown area on Friday.

Supt. Ruel Berango, deputy city police director for operations, said on Saturday that they nabbed the suspects after swooping on 14 houses in Puroks San Roque, Talipapa and San Juan in Barangay Dadiangas West’s Silway district here that allegedly serve as illegal drug hubs in the area.

Armed with 14 search warrants, he said elements from the city and Region 12 police’s intelligence and operations units launched the crackdown at around 5 a.m. Friday and searched the area for about five hours.

Berango said among those arrested was Alex Villanueva, a resident tagged as a big-time drug pusher.

The identities of the other suspects were initially withheld pending investigation.

He said one of the suspects who figured in the search warrant was able to escape and is now the subject of a manhunt.

“Based on our intelligence monitoring, these suspects have long been involved in drug selling and distribution and were listed in our order of battle against illegal drugs,” Berango said in a radio interview.

During the raid, he said they recovered “significant amounts” of suspected illegal drugs, specifically metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, and various drug paraphernalia.

He said they also “stumbled” into some vital information regarding the illegal drug operations in the area and the alleged personalities behind them.

“The quantity of the illegal drugs we recovered proves that the area was indeed one of the main drug sources in the city,” said Berango.

He did not disclose the quantity or the value of the recovered shabu pending confirmatory tests by the regional police crime laboratory.

But Edgar Acharon, Barangay Dadiangas West chair, acknowledged that Puroks San Roque, Talipapa and San Juan had been giving them headaches due to the noted proliferation of illegal drugs there.

“Talamak talaga dito ang bentahan ng droga (Illegal drug trading here was really rampant),” said Acharon, who acted as witness during the crackdown.

Berango said Friday’s raid was the first major operation conducted in the area by a regional special investigation team created by Chief Supt. Alex Paul Montegudo after he assumed as Region 12 police director last month.

The team, whose creation was backed by Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, was earlier tasked to help cleanse  key areas in the region of criminal and lawless elements, specifically those involved in major criminal activities, he said.

The mayor directed the team and the city police to rid the city’s streets of illegal drugs, he added.

“We’re currently looking deeper into this problem. We’re evaluating some information that we gathered during the raid and hopefully they would lead to more crackdowns and arrests in the coming days,” Berango said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)