2 terrorists involved in drug trade nabbed in Sarangani

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 2 Nov) – Joint operatives arrested two alleged members of a local terrorist cell that supposedly doubles as protector of a major drug group in an operation late Wednesday night in Maasim town in Sarangani Province.

PDEA operatives at the Maasim, Sarangani raid. Photo courtesy of PDEA-12

Gil Cesario Castro, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Region 12 director, identified the suspects as brothers Faroon Lumatao, 35, and Alhotaibby Lumatao, 36, both listed as high-value drug targets.

He said the brothers were alleged members of the Ansar Al-Khalifa Philippines (AKP), which has pledged support to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“Both are protecting the El Patron Drug Group that operates in South Central Mindanao,” he said in a statement.

Armed with a search warrant, Castro said they stormed the residence of the suspects in Barangay Kanalo, Maasim around 11 p.m. Wednesday.

The operation was backed by elements from the Maasim municipal police station and the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan led by Col. Adonis Bajao.

Seized during the raid were plastic sachets containing about 40 grams of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” worth around P440,000, a brown envelope containing documents detailing monetary transactions, a rifle grenade, a hand grenade, a 40mm grenade launcher, seven rounds of 5.56mm live ammunition, several bank deposit slips, cheques, savings account passbook, and a bag containing bills in different denominations.

The raiding team also found a black ISIS flag at the house of the suspects.

The ISIS flag recovered from the Maasim, Sarangani raid. Photo courtesy of PDEA-12

Castro said the suspects, who are currently detained at the PDEA-12 headquarters here, would be charged with violation of Section 11 or possession of dangerous drugs, under Article II of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and RA 9516 for illegal possession of ammunitions and explosives.

Last month, anti-drug operatives seized about a kilogram of suspected shabu worth around P5 million, drug paraphernalia, suspected ecstasy, laboratory equipment, assorted firearms, explosives and ammunition in a raid at the house of Maasim Mayor Aniceto Lopez Jr.

The mayor was not around during the raid but later surrendered to known political ally Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao.

Lopez was tagged by PDEA-12 as alleged protector of the AKP and the El Patron Drug Group.

AKP had been blamed over a string of terror attacks in Sarangani and neighboring areas these past years.

Its alleged founder, Mohammad Jaafar Sabewang Maguid alias “Tokboy,” was killed in an encounter with police operatives in January at a beach resort in Kiamba, Sarangani. (MindaNews)