Leyte Mayor tagged as drug lord arrested
ALBUERA, LEYTE—Police served two warrants of arrest to the mayor of this town, who had sought protective police custody for fear of his life after he and his son were tagged as among Eastern Visayas’ biggest drug lords.
Senior Supt. Franco Simborio, Leyte provincial police chief, served the warrants to Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. at the town police station, where the mayor had been staying after his request for protective custody was granted by the town police chief, Chief Insp. Jove Espenido. Espinosa is father of Kerwin Espinosa, who has gone into hiding after he was tagged as Eastern Visayas’ biggest drug lord.
Espinosa was charged with possession of drugs and unlicensed firearms after a raid on his house here yielded at least 11.5 kg of “shabu” and several firearms and ammunition.
The mayor’s mug shot and fingerprints were taken before he was presented to the sala of Judge Carlos Aguelles, of Regional Trial Court Branch 14 in Baybay City, who issued the warrants.
Espinosa pleaded not to be taken to the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay, saying he feared for his life there.
He said he preferred to be detained at this town’s police station where he feels safer under the custody of Espenido.
The mayor was brought to the Western Leyte provincial hospital for a medical checkup. His blood pressure was normal.
His plea was ignored, however, as Espinosa was ordered committed to the sub-provincial jail in Baybay.
Antonio Ubaldo, jail warden, said the mayor would be locked up in cell No. 1 alone in the jail that has 44 inmates.
In Iloilo City, police continued to hunt members of the gang of slain drug suspect Melvin Odicta, killing one and conducting antidrug operations against Odicta’s lawyer and another suspected drug gang leader.
Jesus Espinosa Jr., of Monica village in Iloilo City and allegedly the second highest ranking leader of Odicta’s gang, surfaced and surrendered to the Iloilo Regional Trial Court Branch 31 on Tuesday to heed a warrant of arrest for a frustrated murder case issued in 2002.
He is now detained at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Pototan town, Iloilo province.
On Sunday, police searched Jesus’ house in Dumangas town, Iloilo after securing a warrant of arrest from the Iloilo RTC Branch 68.
While Jesus was not in the house, police found seven sachets of suspected shabu, several guns with ammunition and P25,000 in cash.
Jesus had gone into hiding following the killing of Odicta and his wife, Meriam, on Aug. 29 shortly after President Duterte tagged Odicta as Iloilo City’s biggest drug lord.
Another suspected leader of Odicta’s gang, Roberto Supremo, 66, was gunned down on Sunday in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Riza Estanzuela in Iloilo City.
Police also conducted an antidrug operation against one of Odicta’s lawyers, Edel Julio Romero. Senior Insp. Mark Cordero, officer in charge of the Molo district police station, said Romero is a “high value target.”
Romero has repeatedly denied involvement in drugs. —WITH A REPORT FROM NESTOR P. BURGOS
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