By ALI G. MACABALANG
COTABATO CITY – Around R6.8 million worth of crystal meth (shabu) were seized from a teacher and three others in the latest anti-narcotics operations in Central Mindanao.
Juvenal Azurin, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PDEA-ARMM), identified the arrested teacher-suspect as Salma Talib who was nabbed together with Saiden Yusa, Nasser Pasawilan and Mahmod Dimaudtang.
The four were entrapped while the P6.8-million worth of shabu were in their possession within the premises of a gasoline station along Barangay Awang in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao on Friday.
Azurin, who led the operation himself, said the entrapment operation against Talib and her cohorts came about after the agency received information from concerned citizens about the group’s drug-peddling activities in Maguindanao.
The operation involved a PDEA poseur-buyer, who had negotiated with Talib’s group to acquire some 50 grams of “shabu” worth P300,000.
At past 5 p.m. PDEA operatives, backed by elements of the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion and Maguindanao Provincial Police Drug Enforcement Unit, pounced on Talib after she handed over the stuff and received the supposed P300,000 cash from the PDEA poseur-buyer.
Authorities recovered a big plastic packet of “shabu” weighing 50 grams with a street value of P340,000, as well as 19 other sachets of the prohibited substance worth P6,460,000.
Also seized were the suspects’ mobile phones used in the transaction.
Azurin said his office is still trying to determine if the group belongs to a big-time syndicate operating in Maguindanao.
All four suspects are currently detained at the PDEA-ARMM lockup cell while charges for violation of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, are being readied against them. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency)