PDEA-12 shifts focus on ’emerging drug groups’

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Region 12 has shifted its operations on new illegal drug groups that reportedly emerged these past months in parts of the region.

Gil Cesario Castro, PDEA Region 12 director, said Monday the “emerging drug groups” are mainly remnants of major organized drug groups or syndicates that were previously dismantled under the national government’s “war against illegal drugs.”

Citing their monitoring, he said some members of the previous syndicates have since regrouped and resumed their illegal activities.

He cited the case of the two drug groups based in Pikit, North Cotabato that were “dismantled” in an operation last Friday.

The crackdown led to the recovery of around PHP1.725 million worth of metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and the arrest of 11 leaders and members of the Padian and Guimadel groups.

“These (emerging drug groups) are the focus of our campaign right now. We’re presently validating some intelligence information on the other groups that have emerged in some areas in Region 12,” he said in a radio interview.

Also known as Soccsksargen, the region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Castro acknowledged that there are still numerous drug supplies proliferating in the region as seen with the emergence of the new drug groups.

But he assured that the agency and the Philippine National Police are determined to expose and eventually dismantle these groups.

He said they have been closely coordinating their operations with local police units, which had resumed their anti-drug campaigns after a brief break to give way to the PNP’s “internal cleansing.”

Since Castro assumed as regional director last Jan. 17, PDEA-12 has already netted around PHP4 million worth of illegal drugs, mostly shabu.

Castro said they have arrested and formally charged in various courts more than a dozen “high-value targets.”

On Saturday, PDEA-12 agents separately nabbed two alleged big time drug pushers operating in Koronadal City.

Seized from suspects Mark Anthony Amihan and Sennen Panelo Jr. were around P375,000 worth of shabu.(PNA)