Drug dealers also cool off in Baguio
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — Police are tightly watching popular tourist destinations in the Cordillera region for an unwanted kind of visitors: drug traffickers on R&R.
One place that has become a rest-and-recreation destination for drug traffickers in the region is Baguio and police have stepped up intelligence work to intercept them as they come into the mountain resort city, Edgar Afalla, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Cordillera director, told the Cordillera Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Council on Friday.
Chinese drug traffickers
“Some big-time drug dealers come to Baguio not [for business] but for rest and recreation… maybe just to cool off,” Afalla said, citing the arrest on May 23 of four suspected drug traffickers, all Chinese, in Pangasinan province after coming down from Baguio.
Suspects Lu Jun, Lui Bin, Li Yu and Ye Ling fell in a series of operations by PDEA and National Bureau of Investigation agents and local police as they arrived from Baguio, Afalla said.
Eighteen kilos of “shabu” (crystal meth) were seized from the suspects, who were charged with possessing and transporting illegal drugs, he said.
“Baguio is a highly urbanized city, we cannot monitor everyone who enters the city but we are always vigilant,” said Police Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson, the regional police director.
Afalla urged tighter watch for users and dealers who posed as tourist to buy marijuana.
Marijuana is grown in Tinglayen town, Kalinga province; Kibungan and Bakun in Benguet, and Bauko in Mountain Province.
The price of marijuana shot up to P21,500 a kilo in January after the PDEA and the Philippine National Police destroyed vast marijuana plantations in the three provinces, Afalla said.
Prices fell to P5,000 to P7,000 a kilo from February to April, but spiked in May to reach P11,000 a kilo, according to the PDEA.
Drug of choice
Shabu remains the drug of choice among users in the region, Afalla said.
The drug is shipped to Cordillera from Metro Manila, he said.
In some cases, drug traffickers trade shabu for marijuana through couriers, Afalla said, citing a bus driver from Abra province who was caught recently transporting crystal meth. —Kimberly Quitasol
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