SAVE for a few “remnants” who are now the subject of pursuit operations, the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel’s “joint venture” with Chinese druglords no longer holds and was actually “crushed,” the spokesman of the Philippine National Police-Anti-Illega l Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AID-SOTF) said on Monday.
In an interview, Chief Inspector Roque Merdeguia said that contrary to reports that the cartel remains active in the local drug market, members of the notorious group have dropped their plans of expanding through the Philippines. However, the official said he was not sure if the cartel’s operation would transfer to another country.
“They can no longer operate here. They know they are being followed and their remnants are on our radar. We will ask the Bureau of Immigration to put up a look out list for these personalities,” Merdeguia told The Manila Times.
According to him, they are monitoring the movements of “more than five” cartel members, three of whom have been formally charged before the Department of Justice.
“They have shrunk in number. They ran away. It might take a decade before they could plan to try their luck again here,” the police official stressed.
Merdeguia earlier said the successful raid on the cartel’s lair in Lipa City in Batangas last Christmas had effectively “nipped in the bud” a supposed plan by the cartel to join forces with their Chinese counterparts.
The raid led to the seizure of 84 kilos of high-grade methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and the arrest of some suspects.
With regard to the reported plan of the cartel to assassinate their members who were caught by authorities, Merdeguia said they had “no information” and that it was only the National Bureau of Investigation who made the claim.
“As far as we are concerned, we have no information regarding such supposed assassination plot,” he said.
Last week, Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines Julio Camarena Villasenor doubted reports about the presence of the Sinaloa here since no Mexican has ever been caught by law enforcers.
But Merdeguia claimed that while they respect the views of the Mexican envoy, they have evidence to show that the members of the cartel were here.
“They were here and we can prove it. We are speaking on the basis of evidence,” the police official said.
So far, he said Carlos Isaac Ochoa, Jaime Ibarra Sanchez and a certain “Fernando Jose” were charged as alleged cohorts of Jorge Torres, the cartel’s pointman int eh Philippines.
The Task Force filed charges of delivery, transportation and possession of illegal drugs under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act or Republic Act 9165 against the suspects, who all hail from Sinaloa, Mexico.
In its complaint, the AID-SOTF said surveillance operations they conducted in October and November last year showed the connection between the group and Horacio Hernandez, a “mid-level Sinaloa drug cartel” member and those charged.
Hernandez, who arrived in the country on Oct. 28, 2013, was allegedly tasked to conduct illegal drug deals in the country through a joint operation with a Chinese drug ring led by Gary Tan, who was arrested in the Lipa City drug bust.
Times sources said Hernandez met with the Chinese drug personalities at the Resorts World Hotel in Pasay City which is a stone’s throw from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Merdeguia said that the Chinese contacts “dispersed” following the Lipa City raid btu that they remain within sight of AID-SOTF.