The nine-year chase for an alleged illegal recruiter came to an end this week in Zamboanga when authorities led by the Bureau of Immigration caught up with fugitive Bless Grace Hernandez-Ardona on Thursday while she was attempting to leave the country via the Zamboanga Pier.
Hernandez-Ardona is wanted by authorities in connection with cases filed against her for several cases of illegal recruitment as well as estafa. A warrant of arrest for her was issued on Dec. 19, 2007 by Regional Trial Court Judge Jose A. Mendoza.
Caught before boarding a ship bound for Sendakan, Malaysia, Hernandez-Ardona was accompanied by several women when she was arrested by law enforcement officers composed of members of the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime.
Authorities are now mulling over the filing of charges for human trafficking as Hernandez-Ardona was allegedly attempting to smuggle the women to Malaysia to work as hostesses.
Estafa is punishable by imprisonment of a minimum of six months to a maximum of 13 years, while illegal recruitment is punishable by not less than 12 years up to lifetime imprisonment, if there are more than three victims.
If found guilty of human trafficking, Hernandez-Ardona could face lifetime imprisonment.
Estafa and illegal recruitment cases are bailable while human trafficking is a non-bailable offense.
Hernandez-Ardona is currently in the custody of local authorities, after which she will be brought to Manila to face the charges against her.