GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/09 January) — Anti-drug operatives seized around P1.1 million worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu following a buy-bust operation in a crowded community here on Thursday.
Agent Vince Lachica, spokesperson of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Region 12, said Friday they recovered the illegal drugs in a raid at the residence of suspected pusher Reynante Mertalla in Purok San Juan Silway of Barangay Dadiangas West here.
He said they launched the raid at around 9 a.m. Thursday after the suspect allegedly sold a sachet of suspected shabu to a PDEA agent who acted as buyer.
“We’ve monitoring him for quite some time and we eventually established that he is a part of an illegal drug network in the area,” he said.
During the raid, Lachica said their operatives found inside the suspect’s house six small, four medium and a large sachet of shabu that weighed a total of 147 grams and with a market value of P1.1 million.
He said they also recovered a digital weighing scale, P1,000 marked money and several drug paraphernalia.
Arrested during the raid were Mertalla, his live-in partner May Ann Vargas and alleged cohort Jodel Fabian, he said.
Lachica said their records showed that Mertalla had a previous conviction for selling illegal drugs and was just freed last year after serving a 10-year prison term.
“It’s sad to think that instead of reforming inside the jail, he appeared to have learned more dubious things there and eventually used them to continue with his illegal activities when he got out,” he said.
He described Fabian and Vargas as the suspect’s “co-conspirators” in the selling of illegal drugs.
Mertalla, who is currently detained at the PDEA regional headquarters here, denied owning the recovered shabu and any involvement in the illegal drug trade.
“I’m a (shabu) user but I don’t sell them,” he admitted in an interview with reporters.
Fabian and Vargas also denied any knowledge about the illegal activity but acknowledged that they were also shabu users.
Lachica said they are currently preparing the charges against the three suspects for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
He said the three will specifically be facing complaints for violation of sections 5 and 11 of RA 9165 or for selling and possession of illegal drugs.
The official added that they will continue with their intensified anti-drug operations this year after the Thursday raid, which was the first for PDEA-12 this year.
“This accomplishment is a good start for us and we hope that this will continue throughout the rest of 2015,” he added. (MindaNews)