‘Shabu’ lab found again in posh village
More than four years after authorities raided three houses in Ayala Alabang Village that were being used as drug laboratories, the police found another one inside the exclusive subdivision in Muntinlupa City on Wednesday.
Aside from discovering around P225-million worth of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” inside the house, members of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) also arrested three Taiwanese nationals.
Chief Insp. Robert Razon, head of the NCRPO’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group, identified them as Pong Jung, 19; Chen Hu Min, 27; and Eugene Chong, 24. They were paying P140,000 a month to rent the two-story house on Tamarind Drive.
NCRPO director Chief Supt. Joel Pagdilao said the entrapment operation was launched following a month-long surveillance based on information provided by a tipster.
Razon said it was the offshoot of previous operations that led to the arrest and detention of several people—including a man and his relatives on April 23—for drug-related offenses.
“Based on our information, the Taiwanese began renting the house only this March. And they paid such [a] big amount to the owner for the place,” he said.
Authorities had yet to determine who the house owner was and whether he or she knew of the trio’s illegal activities, Razon added.
The Taiwanese suspects were arrested at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday after an undercover policeman negotiated to buy 25 kilos of shabu worth P125 million. The deal was consummated inside the garage.
“When we placed them under arrest, one of the suspects ran inside the house so the police ran after him and arrested him there. That’s how the shabu laboratory was discovered,” Razon said.
He added that each room in the house had a specific function in the drug-making process: There was a room for repacking the “merchandise” and, on the top floor, an “open area” where the drugs were laid out apparently to dry.
“So it was not only the living room (that was used). We also saw chemicals for the manufacture of the drugs and other drug paraphernalia like containers in other rooms,” Razon said.
Aside from the 25 kilos bought by the undercover policeman, 30 kilos worth P150 million were found inside the house, Pagdilao told reporters.
“So based on the amount of drugs we got, the three suspects are high-level targets,” Razon said.
It was still unclear, however, if the Taiwanese were engaged in both the manufacture and distribution of shabu, he added, saying that it was possible that Ruel Balacuit and his relatives, who were all arrested in a buy-bust operation in Quezon City on April 24, were the distributors.
Balacuit even brought along a 12-year-old girl to make it appear that he was with his family and avoid arousing suspicion, the police said.
In January 2012, agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) raided a one-hectare property on Acacia Street in Ayala Alabang Village and found what they described as a medium-scale drug laboratory. Five Chinese men were arrested and truckloads of drug paraphernalia and equipment were seized.
That same month, two other houses, one on Kanlaon Street and the other on Country Club Drive, were also raided, resulting in the seizure of more drug chemicals and paraphernalia. No arrests were made as both houses had apparently been abandoned.
PDEA agents said the house on Acacia Street could manufacture a minimum of 10 kilos of shabu per cycle. A month later, they filed charges against five officials of Fuerte Holdings Inc.—the registered owner of the house.
The discovery of the shabu labs prompted village association officials to tighten their screening of tenants. With Inquirer Archives
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