COTABATO CITY (MindaNews /15 March) — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PDEA-BARMM) has arrested an alleged big-time illegal drug operator in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday, March 14, in an operation that netted three kilograms of suspected shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) worth P20.4 million, an official said.
Juvenal Azurin, PDEA-BARMM regional director, said his men led by Agent Jack with the help of PDEA-Region 9 and military and police operatives arrested Ejek Abduhalim during a buy-bust operation in Port Area Extension, Barangay Waled in Jolo town.
The suspect will be facing charges for violating Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The alleged shabu seized from the suspect was hidden in a tea bag with Chinese characters.
Azurin claimed that the Golden Triangle Cartel of Southeast Asia was the source of the imported illegal drugs.
The Golden Triangle, a drug syndicate operating in the tri-borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, has been transporting illegal drugs into the country using the waters of the island-provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, the official said.
Boats from Malaysia transport the illegal drugs into the country, he added.
“We have just started. There is a good transfer of intelligence and we have good relationship with other government security forces in the war against drugs. Hopefully, we can get a better and bigger picture of how the illegal drug trade is thriving in Sulu,” Azurin said
But what concerns the PDEA is the possible existence of a narco-terror group that provides security to illegal drug operators in the province, he noted.
There is big money in illegal drugs, and it is possible that some drug personalities employ the services of terrorist groups in exchange for money to buy armaments to fight the government, Azurin said.
Sulu province is a known lair of the Islamic State-aligned Abu Sayyaf Group, which has been involved in bombings and kidnappings and classified by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization.