6 ‘narco cops’ in ‘enormous’ drug network

October 09, 2018

AT LEAST six officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP), two of them already dismissed for irregularities, have been linked to an “enormous” illegal drug network in the country, with their “tentacles’’ allegedly penetrating two other anti-illegal drugs frontline agencies, the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Highly-informed sources claimed the police officials had served in different anti-drug groups of the PNP under previous administrations and ended up also being “appointed and recruited” in the “restructured” PNP-Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG) tasked to carry out President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“People being appointed and recruited into these organizations were the same personalities; creating pool of agents and personnel who are mostly corrupt and have already created networks with different drug lords across the country and abroad,” the sources added.

Of the dismissed officials, one has been described as among the PNP’s “anti-narcotics stalwarts” but got entangled in anomalous procurement in 2011 of 1,004 pieces of AK-47 assault rifles that were eventually sold to the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

The official, who previously headed the PNP’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF), was regarded as among the senior officers of the PNP who spent most of his career in anti-narcotics operations.

“However, he also earns the reputation of amassing wealth by recycling the drugs that have been confiscated and even earning substantial amount of money through extortion from apprehended suspects, especially Chinese nationals,” one of the sources said.

The source added the dismissed official’s group is also notorious in the intelligence community for “fabricating stories” and “planting pieces of evidence,” particularly illegal drugs, which the group “recycled” from their previous anti-illegal drugs operations.

Their criminal network also involves a Bureau of Customs (BoC) operative and another ranking official from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), known as a “protégé” of the dismissed police official.

The PDEA official, similar to the BoC officer, were both described by the sources as, “scorers,” or those who can “deliver accomplishments” to boost their credentials as well as that of their respective agencies.

The protégé and his group reportedly conducted a drug operation in Valenzuela on Jan. 12, 2016 where they declared only 36 out of the more than 55 packs of confiscated “shabu”.

Two days later, the group conducted a “scripted” buy-bust operation in Binondo, Manila, using 15.05 kilograms of shabu confiscated in the Valenzuela’s operation upon the instructions of alleged Chinese drug lord Atong Lee.

For these “scripted operations,” the group was even awarded and rewarded by PNP and the PDEA later on.

Based on the government’s initial background checks, the protégé has reportedly accumulated wealth which is “disproportionate” to his salary as government employee.

It was recommended the official should undergo “a thorough lifestyle check” to determine the real source of his wealth, such as the P7.8 million declared in his SALN and undeclared real estate properties worth in excess of P100 million.

The BoC officer, on the other hand, is described as an “influential force” in the bureau.

He was linked with a long list of anomalous activities and operations in the agency, with close links to criminal syndicates based in mainland China and Taiwan.

For his part, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde confirmed they are already investigating the involved police officials. Similarly, customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña, in a talk with this writer, said a probe is also underway against the suspect BoC operative.