Cordillera cops nab 16 for possession of marijuana bricks

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Some of the marijuana bricks seized by a government team from a group of students. HANDOUT PHOTO

BAGUIO CITY — Personnel of the Sabangan Municipal Police in Mountain Province arrested 15 students, including one Nigerian, and their driver for possessing and transporting 56 marijuana bricks, stalks and pulverized marijuana.

According to a report by the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PRO Cor), the Sabangan Police received a tip on December 4, 2017 that a white Hi Ace Grandia with plate number A2 N747 loaded with marijuana was enroute to Baguio.

The lawmen set up a checkpoint along the National Road at Sitio Todey, Poblacion, Sabangan, Mt. Province. Minutes later, the vehicle owned and driven by Bayani Malang, 54, a resident of Nijaga, Tondo, Manila, was flagged down.

Among the passengers were four minors. The others were identified as Ricky Pinlac Perez; Marvin Canlas Garza; Miko Flores Miranda; and Jaymar Cruz De La Cruz, all 18 years old; Ezekiel Radin Tiu, 20; Mark Santiago Sarmiento, 21; Niko Cwaling Yumol, 21, and all residents of Tondo, Manila; Jireh Rose Daniaguel De La Cruz, 19, a resident of Montalban, Rizal; Abigail Baldric Del Fierro, 23, college graduate, from New Jersey, USA and residing at Project 6-Quezon City; Nneka Anastasia Okonkwo, 23, native of Nigeria and residing at San Fernando City; and Stephanie Mangaoang Gapuz, 27, from Carpenter Avenue Plainfield Illinois, residing at San Fernando, La Union, and all students.

The police said that during their visual search, they smelled marijuana, prompting them to conduct an inspection inside the vehicle. They discovered one transparent cellophane containing suspected marijuana leaves weighing 50 grams in the bag of one of the passengers. However, the passengers refused to open the bags at the back compartment of the vehicle, prompting the operatives to apply for a search warrant.

Upon obtaining a warrant on the night of the following day, combined government teams – the Sabangan MPS, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Cordillera and Dangerous Drug Board – took 56 suspected marijuana bricks, four bundles of stalks and one plastic containing suspected pulverized marijuana from the baggage of the passengers inside the van. Value of the marijuana has yet to be determined by the PDEA.

All suspects were brought to the court for inquest proceedings. The minor suspects were taken into custody by the local Social Welfare Office of Sabangan while the marijuana bricks, stalks and powder are now at the Regional Crime Laboratory Office for examination.