Fisherman jailed for keeping recovered cocaine bricks

A FISHERMAN from Tandag City in Surigao del Sur who was earlier hailed for returning a total of 34 bricks of cocaine they found floating in the local waters last February 23 turned out to be bogus had actually kept a huge part of their previous find in an apparent effort to sell the drugs to local drug users.

Police Regional Office 13 director Brig. Gen. Gilbert DC Cruz yesterday announced the filing of criminal charges for violation of Section 11 or possession of dangerous drugs under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 against 48-year-old Ronie Arpilleda Navales.

“He is not a Good Samaritan after all as he was found to have intentionally kept six bricks of cocaine thinking he would gain instant money by selling the drugs to local users,” said Cruz.

Navales, a resident of Purok Santan, Bgy. Bongtud in Tandag City, was placed under surveillance after the local police received reports about the sale of cocaine in some areas of Surigao del Sur.

After sensing he was already the subject of a police operation, Navales turned over four bricks of cocaine to the local police and claimed afterwards that he had flushed two more bricks in the toilet bowl.

Finding inconsistencies in his statement, police took custody of the suspect while the cocaine bricks he surrendered were properly turned over to the local office of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Last February 23, Navales and fellow fisherman Ryan Apelo, 23, found the floating cocaine bricks and immediately turned their find to the Tandag City Police Station earning them kudos from local officials. They were given sacks of rice as a reward for their feat.

“Let us not be blinded by the greed of money for it will only bring trouble to you and your family. May this also serve as a warning to those who have recovered bricks of cocaine but have decided to keep them for themselves in order to sell the drugs in the future. You can never hide from the long arm of the law,” Cruz said.

Last April 7, 40 more cocaine bricks worth an estimated P200 million were turned over to the local police by local fishermen who discovered them floating in the waters off Surigao del Norte.

Cruz said that the cocaine bricks wrapped in a fishnet were spotted by a group of fishermen in the waters off Burgos, Surigao del Norte at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The fishermen reported their find to the Burgos Municipal Police Station.