Ecija drug trafficker killed, 4 held

CABANATUAN CITY – A drug buy-bust turned bloody in Licab, Nueva Ecija early yesterday morning after a suspected drug trafficker chose to shoot it out with undercover operatives resulting to his death while four others were nabbed in separate stings in the towns of Talavera and Cabiao.

Police Maj. Manuel T. Catacutan, provincial police information officer said the slain suspect identified as Chester Artiaga, single, jobless, of Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga suddenly drew his firearm and fired upon the operatives, but missed, prompting the operatives to return fire, killing him on the spot.

The buy-bust operation transpired in Bgy. Tabing-Ilog at 2:10 a.m.

Operatives recovered from the dead suspect a homemade cal. 38 revolver and a plastic sachet with shabu, said Catacutan.

In Talavera, Lt. Col. Alexie Desamito, town police head, identified the three arrested drug suspects as Alexander Del Mundo Jr., 24, alias JR, 24, vendor, of Purok Magsaysay, Bgy. Pinagpanaan, Matt Jeffrey Dela Cruz, 40, electrician, of Zone II, Bgy. Pag-asa District; and Astaire Soto, 48, tricycle driver, of Bgy. Mabini Homesite, Cabanatuan City.

Del Mundo and Dela Cruz were both in possession of 10 plastic sachets with shabu when nabbed by authorities during a sting conducted in Bgy. Pinagpanaan at 12:30 p.m.

Soto has eight plastic sachets containing shabu and P1,000 in buy-bust money when operatives pounced on him shortly after a buy-bust also in Bgy. Pinagpanaan at 8 p.m.

In Cabiao, Catacutan said tricycle driver Marlon Gregorio, 40, of Bgy. Sinipit, was caught in possession of two plastic sachets containing shabu when summoned inside the police station for creating trouble in the barangay.

Gregorio allegedly tried to throw away the drugs but alert police personnel on duty caught him, resulting to his arrest. – Steve A. Gosuico.