Suspect in Batangas ‘shabu’ seizure ex-US Army man

Suspect in Batangas ‘shabu’ seizure ex-US Army man

/ 05:54 AM April 19, 2024

Suspect in Batangas ‘shabu’ seizure ex-US Army man

The bundles of illegal drugs seized in Batangas. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The suspect who was arrested in one of the country’s biggest drug hauls earlier this week was a former US Army soldier, the Philippine National Police said on Thursday.

Calabarzon regional police chief Brig. Gen. Paul Kenneth Lucas did not specify the relevance of the information, but he identified the suspect as Alajon Michael Zarate, 47, of Quezon City, who left the Philippines and migrated to the United States when he was 8 years old.


READ: Marcos on largest shabu bust ever: No bullet fired, not one person dead


Zarate enlisted in the US Army in 1997 but left the service in 2005 before he returned to the Philippines, Lucas said at a press briefing. “He returned in 2008 and built a fitness center somewhere in Metro Manila. That’s all that we could say for now about the suspect,” he added.

Zarate was driving the passenger van, supposedly bound for Parañaque City, that was flagged down at a local police checkpoint for a routine inspection in Alitagtag, Batangas, on April 15.

Police officers grew suspicious of him because he appeared distressed when he was asked to present his driver’s license.

When Zarate was asked to remove the covering of his cargo, the police discovered sacks and large plastic bags that supposedly contained 1.4 tons of crystal meth, locally known as “shabu.”

Value of haul lowered

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) earlier estimated the confiscated illegal drugs at P13 billion, but based on the official tallies, it was found to amount to P9.68 billion. Despite this, it is still considered one of the biggest drug seizures in history, according to Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos.

The PDEA has yet to conduct a “purity test” of the confiscated drugs, but Assistant Secretary Renato Gumban, PDEA deputy director general for operations, said there were indicators these were of “high purity.”


The government has yet to release further details of the confiscated drugs and information on follow-up operations, but even President Marcos praised the police on Tuesday for the seizure without anybody being killed.

“Nobody died. No shots were fired. Nobody was hurt. We operated silently. For me, this is the correct approach to the drug war,” he said, in an apparent dig at the bloody drug war campaign of his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte.

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The largest drug haul in the country before Monday’s operation was the P11 billion worth of shabu found in 1,589 tea bags seized in Infanta, Quezon, in March 2022.

TAGS: Batangas, shabu

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