₱110-million drug bust is proof that illegal drug trade in Bilibid continues: police chief
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Twenty-two kilos of shabu with a street value of ₱110 million (US$2.2 million) were seized Monday in a buy-bust operation, police said.
The confiscated drugs were proof that the illegal drug trade still continues in the New Bilibid Prison, said Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa.
Ma. Rosario Echaluce and nephew Angelo Echaluce were apprehended with the 22 kgs of shabu after the buy-bust operation in front of a building in the Guadalupe Commercial Complex in Makati City, police said.
Dela Rosa said Echaluce was the common-law wife a Hilario Labadero from Cebu who is now detained in the maximum security prison in Bilibid.
This shipment seized from the Echaluces was intended as a second delivery to Cebu, he added.
"Itong shabu daw na ito ay intended for Cebu. Ide-deliver nila sa Cebu. Bali pangalawa na daw ito. Meron na daw silang successful delivery sa Cebu," Dela Rosa said in a press briefing.
[Translation: "this shabu is intended or Cebu. They were to deliver it to Cebu. This is the second (delivery). They already have had a successful delivery in Cebu."]
"Ganito din ang sistema. Nilalako nila sa bag. Ganitong mga bag. Wala silang sasakyan. Parang normal lang, sumasakay ng bus. Ganon ka-simple ang kanilang operation," he added.
[Translation: "This is their system. They place it in bag like this. They don't have vehicles. They act normal, ride the bus. That's how simple their operation is."]
Police are investigating Labadero's links to alleged Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, who was recently extradited to the Philippines last Friday from the United Arab Emirates
"Si Kerwin naman, nag-start sa kanyang drug business sa Cebu. Di ba nakulong siya sa Cebu? Pwede, pwede. I-determine natin yan," the PNP chief said.
[Translation: "Kerwin began his drug business in Cebu. Wasn't he jailed in Cebu? We can determine that (link)."]
When asked how illegal drug transactions still happen in the jail, Dela Rosa said Labadero may be contacting a drug source based in Hong Kong through his common-law wife Echaluce.
Dela Rosa said human rights officials may complain if relatives are prohibited from visiting inmates.
"Alangan namang di natin padalawin ang mga ito. Baka mag-ngakngak na naman ang human rights," said Dela Rosa.
[Translation: "We can't prevent them from visiting (the jail). The human rights (commission) might complain."]
The PNP's Special Action Force is in charge of guarding the New Bilibid Prison's maximum security compound and Building 14, where inmates convicted on drug charges are held.
Lawmakers have held investigations in recent months to determine the extent of the illegal drug trade within the national penitentiary and its links to the former Justice Secretary-turned-Senator Leila de Lima.
De Lima is alleged to have received millions of pesos in payoffs from convicted drug lords inside the jail to allow them to continue the trade. Investigation now continues with the Department of Justice.