Agents of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday raided two condominiums at the upscale Bonifacio Global City, popularly known as The Fort, in Taguig City and found what they described as secret laboratories that process shabu smuggled from Mexico.
The NBI said P100-million worth of shabu, Ecstasy, and cocaine were seized from units at The Luxe Residences and One Serendra during the raid.
Two Canadians and a Filipino were arrested by the NBI agents.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima identified the Canadians as James Ruach and Barry Espadilla, who face a string of criminal charges in Canada, and the Filipino as Tristan Olazo.
The raids confirmed stories published by The Manila Times that Chinese, Mexican and African syndicates are competing to dominate the drugs market in the country.
The Times reported that the Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa has struck an alliance with Chinese traffickers who see a looming turf war with the Africans.
An agent, who asked not to be identified, said the shabu, cocaine and Ecstasy from the labs in the condominium are eventually sold in night clubs and bars in The Fort.
“The lesser the mobility, the better. This prompted the syndicates to put up a laboratory near the intended outlets like the bars in Bonifacio Global City and the adjoining cities,” the agent told The Times.
The NBI made its move on Tuesday night, when its agents arrested Thank God Agu, allegedly a member of the African syndicate, in Las Piñas City.
A search of Agu’s car yielded 137 grams of shabu with a street value of P400,000, the NBI said.
De Lima said the suspects in the condominium busts were members of the Sinaloa.
NBI Officer in Charge Medardo de Lemos said his agents found in the condominium units ingredients in making illegal drugs.
Equipment and utensils like heaters, sealers and weighing scales were also found.
Last Christmas Day, a government counter-narcotics team discovered a big stash of shabu in a game fowl farm in Lipa City, believed to have been shipped in by the Sinaloa.
A source also mention a Canadian-Mexican connection known as “Independent Soldier” that also employs Iranians and other nationalities.
Following the discovery of the shabu labs, the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Illegal Drugs-Special Operations Task Force (AID-SOTF) called on the owners and administrators of buildings and condominiums to strictly screen prospective tenants.
Chief Insp. Roque Merdeguia, AID-SOTF spokesman, said owners and administrators of condominiums and subdivision should do a thorough background check on individuals renting or buying units from them.
The same appeal was made by Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano on Wednesday.
“More than providing a safe haven for the business community to flourish in our beloved city, it is also important in securing our residents against syndicates that prey on the innocent,” Cayetano said.
She said winning the war against illegal drugs is an essential component in the maintenance of peace and order in Taguig.
“We must remain vigilant against this menace in our society. While I am glad that the NBI and the police are able to dismantle this drug operation, I challenge them to be more aware and to stay on ground against crimes such as this,” she added.
Before Cayetano took over in Taguig, the city was notorious as a “hot spot” for illegal drugs.
Last year, prominent members of the Tinga drug syndicate, which included Joana Tinga and Henry Tinga, were arrested in a raid in Barangay Santa Ana.
Taguig police earlier arrested Elisa “Ely” Tinga, another key member of the syndicate and the third most wanted man in the city.
With Reports From Anthony Vargas and Ritchie Horario