CYBERSEX RINGS, SCALAWAG COPS IN 2014
THE arrest of high-profile fugitives, the busting of an international cybercrime ring and the cracking down on a gang of crooked policemen preying on arrested drug traffickers will count as among the biggest accomplishments of the Philippine National Police (PNP) so far in 2014.
Last March, the PNP’s Criminal Investigation Group broke up a gang of police civilian agents specializing in “recycling” illegal drugs seized from Chinese arrested on drug trafficking charges. The gang’s boss was Chief Insp. Bienvenido Reydado, the head of the CIDG office in Pampanga.
CIDG chief Director Benjamin Magalong announced the arrest Reydado and five civilian agents doing the dirty work for him: Adriano Laureta, Arnold Sanggalang, Eric Reydado, Edwardson Sisracon and Alberto Reydado.
Magdado said the group would apprehend Chinese nationals suspected of running drugs. Instead of bringing the suspects to the police station, the group detained them in its hideout in Bulacan. There they would strike a deal with the suspect: Give us your supply of drugs and we’ll set you free. The gang would then sell the drugs, in effect taking over the suspect’s operation.
Also in March, the PNP’s Task Force Tugis finally caught up with Delfin Lee, founder of Globe Asiatique and one of the country’s high-profile fugitives.
Lee is accused of falsifying documents to secure billions of pesos worth of loans for ghost borrowers. The government had offered a huge bounty for information leading to his arrest.
A team from Tugis arrested him on March 6 outside the Hyatt Hotel in Malate, Manila, ending a six-month manhunt.
Lee was on the list of the government’s most wanted criminals that includes former Army general Jovito Palparan, Dinagat Rep. Ruben Ecleo, and New People’s Army (NPA) leaders Benito Tiamzon and Jorge Madlos.
After Lee’s arrest, President Benigno Aquino 3rd confidently announced that law enforcers were closing in on other high-profile criminals.
On March 21, a team of military and police agents captured the Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma in Cebu City.
Benito is chairman of the CPP-NPA and Wilma is the secretary general.
Sources in the military and intelligence community said the couple had taken over the helm of the CPP-NPA from its founder, Jose Ma. Sison, who has been living in self-exile in the Netherlands.
A few weeks after the arrest of the Tiamzons, operatives of the PNP Anti-Cyber Crime Group, closely coordinating with the International Police Organization (Interpol), smashed a major international cyber-crime syndicate that used young girls to victimize foreigners.
The foreigners would pay to go online and watch the minors perform sexual acts. The syndicate would then shake down the foreigner, threatening to expose them to the authorities if they did not pay up.
On April 30, PNP and Interpol personnel conducted simultaneous raids on the syndicate’s cybersex dens in the Bicol region, Laguna, Bulacan and Taguig City.
Oplan Strikeback led to the arrest of 58 people, the seizure of more than 200 pieces of electronic devices and the rescue of several young girls used by the syndicate in its operation.
The PNP followed up the bust by smashing another cybersex ring run by a woman and her daughter in Bulacan in late August.
Arrested were Ma. Cecilia Caparas-Ragachuela and her daughter Marcel Jing, who owned a money remittance shop, which was used by the group in their extortion racket.
In May, police operatives from Central Luzon captured Abigail Pendulas, the wife of the brains behind the Aman Futures scam.
After being on the run for more than a year, Pendulas was tracked by police at Barangay Dolores of San Fernando City, Pampanga.
Pendulas had eluded arrest for so long because she had a nose lift to change her appearance. She is facing charges of syndicated estafa for running a pyramiding operation that victimized 15,000 people in Mindanao who had invested about P12 billion in the get-rich-quick scam.
Pendulas is married to Manuel Amalilio, president of Aman Futures Group Philippines Inc. and the suspected scam mastermind.
In early June, police and military intelligence agents teamed up to recapture the commander of the extremist group Abu Sayyaf who has been in the US government’s terrorist list for years.
Khair Mundos, the alleged finance officer of the Abu Sayyaf, was first arrested in 2004 for a string of charges including multiple murder. Jailed in Kidapawan City in Southern Mindanao, he escaped while being escorted to his trial in 2007.
He was rearrested in a house of a relative in Paranaque City after police put up a $500,000 for his capture.
Mundos fled to Metro Manila because authorities were closing in on him in Mindanao.