5 Maguindanao drug traders netted

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SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: A joint operation by the Philippine Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Barangay Kayaga, Pandag town in the 2nd district of Maguindanao resulted in the arrest of five drug traffickers allegedly connected with extremist groups.

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They were identified as Dante Karatuan, 34; Roy Datukali, 22; Jomar Jainal, 20; Gale Mangandaong, 20; and Jerry Talib, 39, who are now detained at the Pandag municipal police station after their arrest on Wednesday.

Recovered from their possession were several grams of shabu, assorted firearms, a fragmentation grenade, a laptop computer, gun parts, cameras and P16,000 cash.

The suspects were charged with violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act and illegal possession of firearms.

“They are also being assessed for alleged connection with local extremists groups,” Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, said.

Several large-scale drug traffickers in different barangay (villages) in Pandag were neutralized last year and residents of Barangay Kayaga are convinced that the five arrested suspects share part of their earnings from drug-peddling activities with Islamic State-inspired groups.

Pandag Mayor Zihan Mamalinta-Mangudadatu, chairman of the municipal peace and order council, said the local PNP and all village watchmen are on heightened alert against possible retaliation by the suspects’ companions.

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