CORDILLERA Police Regional Office director, Brigadier General Ronald O. Lee on Thursday said they have foiled an attempt by eight drug traffickers to transport nearly P21 million worth of marijuana bricks to Metro Manila by taking advantage of the police’s busy effort to help local residents affected by the powerful tropical depression ‘Maring.’
“My men made the arrest and huge drug seizure while we are also busy in our search-and-rescue-and-retrieval operations in areas in the region devastated by tropical depression ‘Maring.’ Actually, the powerful scent of marijuana gave away the suspects,” Lee told the Journal Group.
In a report to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, the official said three of the suspects were arrested by this men while attempting to transport nearly 154 kilograms of cannabis bricks valued at nearly P19 million early morning Wednesday in Sadanga, Mountain Province.
The official identified the arrested suspects as Jorge Eyawon,34; Dario Diway, 23; and Jake Caesar Linchangan,19, all residents of Cudal, Tabuk City in Kalinga province.
The Cordillera police director said the trio were intercepted by policemen manning a checkpoint in Sitio Ampawilen in Poblacion, Sadanga 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Brig. Gen. Lee said that prior to the arrest, members of the Sadanga Municipal Police Station received information from the local Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) regarding the presence of three men believed to be carrying a huge volume of marijuana in their gray Nissan Almera car.
The information prompted the local police to monitor the presence of the suspects riding a car which is expected to pass by the PNP Quarantine Control Point in Sitio Ampawilen.
Lee said that when the vehicle was stopped at the checkpoint, the driver failed to present the vehicle’s registration papers and his driver’s license prompting officers to place him under questioning.
A routine check later resulted in the discovery of the prohibited drugs they were carrying.
Brig. Gen. Lee said that recovered inside the car were 148 dried marijuana bricks and six cannabis leaves in tubular form weighing 154 kilos and valued at P18,480,000.
The marijuana leaves were found under the car’s spare tire topped by six coconuts.
The suspects are now under the custody of the Sadanga police.
The five other suspects identified as Mountan Province residents Jonathan Abella,37; Jeric Sansano,30; Samson Damaso,28; Sonny Kalaw,37; and a 17-year-old male were arrested in Sitio Oowayen in Bgy. Poblacion about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Lee said that Abella turned out to be an employee of the Bontoc General Hospital while Sansano, Damaso and Kalaw are all construction workers. The teenager is a student.
The official said that members of the Sadanga MPS, joined by local PDEA operatives and the Cordillera Police Regional Mobile Force Battalion and Regional Intelligence Division made the arrest while they manning a checkpoint in the area.
It turned out that the officers were approached by a local resident who informed them that a van travelling in the area suffered a flat tire.
Officers later found a black Toyota Grandia van with plate no. POF 950 parked along the national road around three kilometers away from their checkpoint and offered to help its occupants replace the flat tire.
However, when the driver opened the rear door of the van to get the spare tire, the distinctive scent of marijuana greeted the policemen.
In plain view, officers saw a sack containing dried marijuana leaves and live ammunition and several spent cartridges inside the vehicle prompting them to call for back-up and witnesses to the search.
Recovered during the search were 19 pieces of marijuana bricks weighing a kilo each and valued at P2.280 million, 16 spent 9mm ammunition and nine live 9mm bullets. The van was impounded by the local police.
Brig. Gen. Lee said that an Alternative Recording Device (ARD) was used during the arrest and seizure since the concerned policemen are yet to be issued Body-Worn Cameras.
All suspects are now facing non-bailable charges for sale and possession of prohibited drugs under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, said the official.