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Cop linked to Sinaloa drug ops

Police: Seized cocaine may indicate local infiltration by Mexican cartel

A police spokesman said Friday that the arrest of a policeman using cocaine in Taguig City was a sign that the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel is operating in the Philippines.

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“I think this is indicative of the fact that the Sinaloa cartel have probably infiltrated the drug industry in our country,” said Philippine National Police spokesman Senior Supt. Benigno Durana, in an interview with the ANC news channel. “That’s why the President said we must be relentless and chilling in our campaign, the war on drugs... it’s far from over.”

READ: Drug-sniffing cop arrested

In a separate phone interview with Manila Standard, Durana said: “Our drug enforcement agencies are still validating this. But multiple sources point to efforts of the Sinaloa cartel trying to infiltrate the Philippine drug market through the Triad.”

“There are indicators that there may have already formed partnerships. Drug trafficking is a global problem, and cocaine is the specialty of the Sinaloa cartel. There will always be continuous attempts to maximize the market,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the Mexican drug syndicate was active in the Philippines.

“I think this dope situation in Southeast Asia is being run by the Triad of Asia. And [Sinaloa] it’s doing its thing, the Medellin Cartel, using the network of containers,” the President said in a speech last month.

Police Officer 1 Redentor Bautista was caught using cocaine inside a comfort room of a bar during a Halloween party. Authorities seized .04 grams of cocaine from Bautista.

Durana said Bautista would face criminal and administrative charges.

“We have to state this clearly that the Philippine National Police, while we’re tough on crimes, we are far tougher against our erring personnel. This, I would say, is a fluke... he doesn’t represent the entire service personnel who are professional, honest and dedicated,” Durana said.

Durana said the cocaine taken from Bautista was not produced locally and may have come from a Latin American source with ties to Asian drug cartels.

The Sinaloa Cartel is often described as the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Western Hemisphere. While its former head, drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is set to face trial on Nov. 5 in Brooklyn’s federal court, a new analysis shows the crime group still dominates Mexican crime.

The cartel El Chapo created will not crumble by just taking away its leaders, said Mike Vigil, a former Chief of International Operations at the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

“El Chapo created an extraordinary criminal organization that was designed to carry on even in his absence. It’s a global organization that operates in more than 40 countries,” Vigil said.

The cartel never lost its top position in the Mexican underworld because of the way it is organized, according to Amalia Pulido Gómez, a post-doctoral fellow at the College of Mexico.

“The Sinaloa Cartel is very good in terms of its organizational capacity,” she said. “They have a huge capacity to renew their organization even without El Chapo. They have other regional leaders with the capacity to adapt, reduce uncertainty and solve internal disputes.”

In Laoag City, the government’s war on drugs took another hit when the Supreme Court acquitted a convicted shabu supplier when if found that police failed to strictly follow the guidelines on the custody of seized drugs in a buy-bust operation.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano C. del Castillo, the SC ordered the release from detention, unless being lawfully held for another cause, of accused Jerome A. Pascua, alias “Ogie,” of Barangay 40 in Nalbo, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for selling shabu in 2011.

After a review of the evidence presented before the trial court, the Court ruled that there was lapse in the custody of the seized illegal drug, particularly during the inventory of the seized items.

The Court said the law requires that “the apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice [DOJ], and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof.”

In Pascua’s case, the Court said that the three witnesses required by law in the inventory of the seized items were not present. Only a media person and a chief barangay watchman, who is not even an elected official, were present and there was no DOJ representative.

The Court also said that “in case the presence of the necessary witnesses was not obtained, the prosecution must allege and prove not only the reasons for their absence, but also the fact that earnest efforts were made to secure their attendance. Here, the prosecution failed to prove both.”

“In view of the foregoing, the Court is constrained to reverse the conviction of the appellant (Pascua) due to the failure of the prosecution to provide a justifiable reason for the non-compliance with the Chain of Custody Rule, which creates doubt as to the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized plastic sachet of shabu,” the Court said.

Court records showed that the provincial anti-illegal drugs task force, acting on a tip from an informant, organized a buy-bust operation on March 31, 2011 to arrest Pascua who was identified as a supplier of shabu in his village.

A police officer pretended to be the buyer and gave P1,000 to Pascua in exchange for a sachet of shabu weighing 0.0154 grams. On a pre-arranged signal, the members of the buy-bust team arrested Pascua inside his house.

When searched, one of the rooms yielded illegal drugs paraphernalia. Thus Pascua and one Manilyn Pompa, alleged girlfriend of Pascua, were also charged with violation of Section 12 of Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Only Pascua was charged with violation of Section 5 of Article II of RA 9165 on the illegal sale of dangerous drugs before the Laoag City Regional Trial Court.

On Dec. 4, 2012, the RTC handed down its decision acquitting Pascua and Pompa of violating Section 12.

However, the trial court found Pascua guilty of violating Section 5, selling illegal drugs, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of P2 million.

The Court of Appeals sustained the ruling handed down by the RTC in its decision dated Oct. 9, 2015.

The appellate court held that there was a valid buy-bust operation. It also held that the chain of custody rule was complied with and the elements of the crime of illegal sale of shabu were established by evidence.

This prompted Pascua to elevate the CA decision to the Supreme Court.

In September, the Court laid down the mandatory guidelines in the custody and disposition of confiscated, seized or surrendered illegal drugs to avoid poorly built-up cases that clog court dockets.

Pascua’s case was not yet covered by the new guidelines. 

Topics: Taguig City , cocaine , Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel , Philippine National Police , Benigno Durana , Rodrigo Duterte , El Chapo
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