GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 November) — Illegal drug syndicates have reportedly started to move out from Region 12 as a result of the government’s continuing intensified anti-drug operations in the area.
Gil Cesario Castro, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region 12 director, said Friday they received intelligence reports that drug groups now consider the region as a “difficult market” for illegal drugs.
He said such situation has made drug supplies, especially methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, scarce that eventually raised street prices.
“Drug groups are now starting to redirect or divert their operations to other regions because of this situation,” he said in a press conference.
He said such report was affirmed during their interrogation of several drug personalities that they had arrested.
Castro refused to identify the region where the drug groups and personalities were supposedly moving into pending the ongoing operations.
In the last two months, PDEA-12 arrested several personalities that were tagged as operators and protectors of major drug groups in the region.
Among them the El Patron Drug Group, which allegedly involves several local businessmen, politicians and members of terror group Ansar Al–Khalifa Philippines (AKP) based in Sarangani Province.
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.
Earlier this week, PDEA-12 agents arrested two members of the Simbualan Drug Group based in North Cotabato and dismantled a drug den in Labayong town in Sultan Kudarat.
Despite these accomplishments, Castro acknowledged that illegal drugs continue to proliferate in parts of the region.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
“We really can’t totally eliminate it but at least we’re keeping them away from Region 12 and that what we are doing. The only sad part is that the diverted supplies have been going to other areas because this is also a business,” he added. (MindaNews)