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Mexican drug cartel operating in Philippines - PNP

Sinaloa drug cartel leaders Joaquin Guzman (left) and Valenzuela are seen in this August 2012 Reuters file photo. Guzman or "El Chapo" escaped from Mexican prison in 2001 and is tagged by Forbes as the most powerful criminal on the planet. Philippine police have confirmed that Sinaloa elements are now players in the multibillion illegal drugs industry in the country, with initial evidence of their presence found in a Christmas Day raid in a Batangas City compound.

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA – Philippine police on Thursday said they have detected evidence that the Mexican drug cartel is operating in the Philippines, with initial information indicating the cartel has started with financing operations of some Chinese and West African drug syndicates in the country.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima confirmed the bad news in a briefing Thursday at Camp Crame, saying police now hold evidence that some personalities of the Sinaloa drug cartel are operating in the country. According to Purisima, the archipelago’s porous borders make tracking the multinational syndicates’ operations harder.

Ngayon nakikita natin na nagsisimula pa lang sila. Kailangan aksyunan natin agad para hindi na tuluyang makapasok [Now, we see they’re just starting out. We need to move fast so they won’t get a firmer foothold],” Purisima said.

The PNP said it had not determined yet the exact number of cartel members who infiltrated the country. Part of the investigation is how the cartel was able to penetrate the country. “So, we are still in the process of determining what is the history behind the arrest of these people,” Purisima said, referring to the Christmas Day raid on an illegal drugs operation in Batangas that confirmed the hand of Sinaloa cartel members.

At half past eight of Christmas morning, raiders seized 84 kilos of shabu worth P420 million from a compound owned by former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste in Barangay Inosloban, Batangas City. 

A Chinese national, Gary Tan, and Filipino couple Argay and Rochelle Argenos were arrested at the compound located within the LPL (Lauro Panganiban Leviste) Ranch.

Purisima said a manhunt is on for a certain Jorge Torres, who had rented the Leviste compound.

The former governor Leviste was recently released on parole from the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) after serving four years of his sentence for homicide in the killing of a top aide.

Purisima said PNP lawyers are checking the possible liability of the owner of the compound, Leviste, in the illegal drugs operation. President Aquino himself had directed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to determine the circumstances behind the decision of the Board of Pardons and Parole to grant parole to Leviste, despite a highly publicized incident that showed him leaving his cell even without permission from prison officials or the court.

“We are studying the possibility of confiscating [the compound] in favor of the government because [it was] used for [illegal] drugs business…but we all know they were just leasing the property and we will be consulting our lawyers,” Purisima, however, said.

Sinaloa leader most wanted US drug trafficker

The Mexican embassy declined to comment on the Philippine police's revelations

The Sinaloa cartel is reputed to be the largest source of illegal drugs to 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 organised crime since then-president Felipe Calderon launched a nationwide war against the cartels after taking office in 2006.

It’s complicated - Purisima

Purisima admitted Sinaloa drug cartel’s Philippine presence complicates the burdens of the PNP in checking the multibillion illegal drugs operations in the country. He explained why: “It will be more hard work. Actually, that’s part of what we’re studying.  We are 7,000 islands. If you go down south you can freely go to Sabah. Sometimes you don’t even have to go through  immigration. You just hop over to the next island and ride a banca. In our piers before, there were reports that containers were not opened, not checked, so we have suspicions but we do not have evidence. So there are so many ways of transporting drugs into our country and . . . sometimes we have seen laboratories also being set up in different parts of the country,” Purisima said.

The initial investigation confirmed that the Mexicans (Sinaloa) “have a hand in the operations of the Chinese. The names used are Chinese. They have apparent collusion and of course, that’s how they usually start, as a partnership, i.e., I finance the operations, you do the work, and later, we will go our separate ways,” Purisima elaborated. 

The head of the PNP’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) said some teams have been deployed to hunt personalities involved in the operation of the Sinaloa drug cartel. “Previously, we have reports that the Mexicans are here…This is the first time that we have confirmed that Mexicans are already here,” Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias said.

“They are Mexicans and Chinese. There are other nationalities who are here pero hindi sila ganun ka-organized but so many nationalities are here. Sometimes they are involved for a short time. Sometimes they are part of a bigger organization but they are also in league with the West African Drug Syndicate. So halo-halo [it’s a mixed bag]. The investigation is ongoing,” Purisima said.

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