SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Region 12 (PDEA-12) launched a massive manhunt for two other members of a big-time drug syndicate operating in South Cotabato following the arrest of two brothers and the recovery of more than half a million worth of illegal drugs and an IS (Islamic State) flag.
Gil Cesario Castro, PDEA-12 regional director, said police and military forces are now pursuing the companions of Faroon Honjeras Lumatao, 35, and his brother Alhotaibby 36, of Maasim town in Sarangani. They were arrested during a raid on All Saints’ Day to serve a search warrant issued by a local court.
“They belonged to El Patron Drug Group operating in Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and GenSan) and have links to the IS-inspired AKP Anshar-al-Khilafah-Philippines (AKP),” Castro said.
“They are key players and have significant information about the drug syndicate, including links to the Maute terrorist group,” Castro added.
The Lumataos and two others who remain at large served as protectors of the drug syndicate that reportedly includes Mayor Aniceto Lopez, Jr. of Maasim municipality.
In October, Lopez surrendered to PDEA after a raid on his house in Maasim.
Castro and Task Force GenSan commander Col. Adonis Bajao led the operation in Barangay Kanalo, Maasim, Sarangani. They recovered a mini drug laboratory, shabu and paraphernalia and a “green book” that contained names of memebers of the El Patron Drug Group.
Castro also said that the two brothers have links with Mayor Lopez and agricultural products dealer Roel Espinoza of Koronadal City who was arrested in September on drug charges.
Castro said the common denominator of AKP and Maute is that they both have IS links.
Aside from shabu, the raiding team also recovered during the raid a brown envelope containing documents of the money trail, shabu transactions, a rifle grenade, hand grenade, bank deposit slips, checks and a savings account passbook and an IS flag.
The brothers are now detained at the PDEA-12 detention cell and are facing charges for violation of RA 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) and RA 9516 (Illegal Possession of Ammunition and Explosives).