SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: A total of 22 big-time drug traffickers were arrested in two days of separate joint operations conducted by the Philippine National Police-Armed Forces of the Philippines in Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and North Cotabato in Region 12. Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao’s police director, on Saturday said 11 drug dealers operating in Parang town were arrested in a series of operations from March 16 to 17. The operations were covered by separate search warrants from local courts, and were carried out after three weeks of planning and surveillance by secret agents. The operations led to the arrest of the drug dealers Reinton Amor, Michael Tactaquin, Akmad Baulo, Reymark Ipili, Luis Tomas, Acmad Lacoto, Ritchie Salazar, Henry Salazar, Akmad Lacoto, Norodin Pasawiran and Cocoy Abat. Local officials said the suspects distributed shabu in Barangays Making and Sarmiento, highly populated areas in Parang town in Maguindanao’s First District. Aside from shabu, receovered from the suspects were high- powered firearms. The arrest of the 11 brought to 50 the number of drug dealers nabbed since Tello assumed command in December 2016. In Pikit, North Cotabato, PNP operatives neutralized on Friday a large drug trafficking syndicate in Barangay Dalengawen. Superintendent Romeo Galgo, Jr., spokesman for Regional Police Office 12, said personnel of the Pikit municipal police, backed by members of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, arrested Mangiging Pandian and his followers. A brief gunfight ensued between gunmen identified with Pandian and the raiding team. The operatives pursued two of Pandian’s men who escaped to the southwest of Barangay Dalengawen carrying two blue bags, believed to contain shabu. Galgo said village leaders and local officials in Pikit assisted in the operations and added that the Pikit municipal police will continue to track down the two companions of Pandian who escaped.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL