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Govt: PH no drug haven

Stepped-up drive to check Mexican cartel’s entry on

THE Aquino administration on Friday said it will not allow the Philippines to become a drug haven following the arrest of persons said to be working for the powerful Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police would share more information in the wake of the recent arrests.

“We do not want our country to be a haven for illegal drugs. Better information sharing leads to the capture of either the smugglers or members of these drug rings,” Valte said.

She said part of a government probe will be to determine how members of the Sinaloa drug cartel were able to enter the country.

“We will check with the Bureau of Immigration. We will have to check the entry records,” Valte said.

On Thursday, Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Alan Purisima, said the Sinaloa members were able to enter the country with the help of Chinese and West African syndicates.

“There is collusion, of course. That’s where they start, in partnership. One party will finance the operation, while the other will do the work,” he said.

Purisima said the PNP will work double time to ensure that the drug cartel members are rounded up immediately.

The Christmas Day drug bust yielded about 84 kilos or P420 million worth of shabu.

The police arrested Gary Tan, Argay Arenos and Rochelle Argenos in the LPL fighting cock ranch owned by former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste, in Barangay Inosloban, Lipa City.

Purisima said police were hunting one Jorge Torres, who rented the Leviste compound.

The Sinaloa cartel is reputed to be the largest source of illegal drugs in the United States.

Its main leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001. He is now America’s most wanted drug trafficker, as well as being considered by Forbes as the most powerful criminal on the planet.

More than 77,000 people have been killed in Mexico in connection with organized crime since then-president Felipe Calderon launched a nationwide war against the cartels after taking office in 2006.

On Friday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Leviste risked losing his parole if it is proven that he was aware of the drug facility in his ranch in Lipa City.

“If it will be proven that he was aware of this drug facility inside their property which is apparently being rented out, then it could be a criminal offense and it could be a ground for withdrawal of the parole,” De Lima said.

“This is, however, not definite yet. That’s why we still have to investigate,” she said.

Asst. State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera will issue a subpoena requiring Leviste to produce and submit the lease contract of the property, De Lima said.

She added that investigators have already verified that Leviste, who was recently granted parole after killing his long-time aide Rafael delas Alas in 2007, owned the ranch.

But Leviste’s daughter, Toni Leviste, denied her family owned the LPL Ranch.

“That’s not our farm, ours is not even in the same compound. I heard it’s in the compound that my uncle had developed in Lipa but that has nothing to do with my dad. We don’t even own anything in the same development,” Leviste told the ABS-CBN network.

“We don’t know the tenants at all nor do we go to that area, since our own farm is not in that area. Ours is in another direction (towards Balete town). Our farm is in fact near the Lipa City Hall, where the parole board office is... where my dad has to report monthly as part of his parole conditions,” she said.

On Christmas Day, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency agents, members of the police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, and Batangas police confiscated 80 kilos of shabu in a raid on the LPL Ranch.

Three people were arrested and charged before the Justice Department.

Police said the drug operation was run by the Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa.

The Bureau of Immigration on Friday said it will immediately deport any foreign national involved in the illegal drug trade.

Immigration chief Siegfred Mison said the bureau is in constant touch with Interpol, which provides the bureau information on foreign nationals with criminal records in their home countries or those included in the watch list of countries. With Rey E. Requejo and Vito Barcelo

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