PDEA seeks seizure of Kuratong man’s assets, including 19 properties
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is seeking the forfeiture of assets of a man associated with the crime group Kuratong Baleleng after his conviction in a local court.
The PDEA in northern Mindanao has recently secured a freeze order from the Court of Appeals on a two-story house in Barangay Bulua here owned by Rico Bacon who, along with his wife Mary Ann and brother-in-law Virgilio Toledo, was arrested on Oct. 9, 2017.
The arrest also yielded a small haul of “shabu” (crystal meth) estimated to value P270,000, a pistol, ammunition, and a hand grenade.
Bacon was convicted on April 23, 2019. It was not yet immediately known if the case against his wife and Toledo were already decided by the court.
Wilkins Villanueva, PDEA director general, said they found out from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) that Bacon declared a monthly income of only P15,000 but he and his wife possessed at least 19 real estate properties, including houses in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, and a condominium unit in Metro Manila.
Bacon, Villanueva said, was allegedly a high-level member of the Ozamiz City-based Kuratong Baleleng group, reported to have been engaged in drug dealing and other criminal activities.
Some of the group’s alleged top leaders were killed in police operations, including then Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., in mid-2017.
Although Bacon was already serving time in jail, Villanueva said that what they were after was his and the Kuratong Baleleng’s financial assets and properties.
“The properties have to be put on freeze so they can’t be sold, the same with the money so it can’t be (further) used in the drug trade,” Villanueva said.
From their investigation, PDEA and AMLC have discovered that Bacon, who also owned a construction company, had declared a monthly income of only 15,000. However, Bacon had bank transactions and property ownership in hundreds of million of pesos, according to Arturo Baculi Jr., AMLC financial investigator.
“It (his income) was not commensurate. You cannot have a house this big with a P15,000 monthly income,” he said.
After implementing the freeze order, Baculi said the AMLC will file a civil forfeiture case as basis for the issuance of a preservation order that will give the government the authority to take hold of the property so Bacon cannot dispose of it.
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