The police asked the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to help identify and locate the assets of George Torres, the Filipino-American member of the Mexican-Sinaloa drug-cartel that tried to gain a foothold in the country last year.
Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (PNP AID-SOTF) spokesman Chief Insp. Roque Merdeguia said they requested the AMLC to investigate Torres.
“We suspect he has properties here and we’re asking the help of AMLC to have this investigated,” Roque said.
The PNP AID-SOTF spokesman said that Torres could own condominium units or houses here.
Torres, who holds a US passport, leased a portion of the LPL ranch owned by the Levistes in Lipa City, Batangas, which was used by the group as a storage area for their illegal drugs.
The ranch was raided on Christmas Day and 84 kilos of high-grade methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu with an estimated street value of P420 million.
Three persons were arrested during the raid, including Torres’ partner, Gary Tan, who police said was a big-time illegal drug trafficker in Metro Manila and outlying regions.
Police officials said that Torres and Tan love cockfighting, which could also be the reason why they rented a fowl-farm in Batangas.
Merdeguia said they submitted the names of suspected members of the Sinaloa drug cartel to Sen. Grace Poe-Lamanzares, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.
Authorities are hunting down members of the drug ring.
“We are tracking them and hope that they are still here,” Merdeguia said.
Death for drug peddlers
To dissuade foreign drug traffickers from setting up operations in the country, a measure that imposes the death penalty on foreigners found guilty of drug trafficking here was approved on committee level at the House of Representatives.
House Bill 1213, authored by brothers Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City and Rep. Maximo Rodriguez of Abante Mindanao party-list, seeks to penalize foreigners guilty of drug trafficking with death. The measure was approved by the Committee on Dangerous Drugs before Christmas. It is set to be tackled on second reading at the plenary when Congress resumes on January 20.
“Many foreign nationals are now emboldened to establish their drug factories in the Philippines because once convicted, they only suffer life imprisonment as opposed to the penalties that they may suffer in their countries, which in some cases is death,” the lawmakers said in the bill’s explanatory note.
They lamented the “unfair” situation of Filipinos found guilty of drug trafficking abroad. They said that while Chinese who are caught trading illegal drugs and operating drug laboratories in the Philippines only get life imprisonment, Filipinos found guilty of trafficking in China are given a death sentence.
“While there is no reason to question the laws of foreign countries, we must, however, ensure that our countrymen do not suffer the short end of the stick,” the Mindanao lawmakers said. “As such, there is a need to amend our laws to ensure that foreign nationals caught violating our laws on drugs be also convicted of the harshest penalties that their national law imposes.”
The bill aims to amend Sec. 31 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Anti-Dangerous Drugs Act of 2003. Once passed, a foreigner found guilty of drug trafficking in the Philippines will face death if the convict’s country prescribes such penalty to the offense.
The punishment will be applicable “despite the prohibition of the imposition of the death penalty in the Philippines.”
Unless the punishment is death, foreigners will be deported immediately without further proceedings after the service of sentence.
Drug trafficking is punishable by life imprisonment in the country after the death penalty was abolished in 2006.
With a report from Llanesca Panti