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2 Canadians, Filipino in drug raid in Taguig, Makati

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MANILA, Philippines – Two Canadian nationals and a Filipino allegedly involved with a notorious Mexican drug cartel were arrested on Wednesday in a dawn raid by National Bureau of Investigation operatives in a condominium in Taguig City.

Canadians James Riach and Barry Espadilla and Filipino Tristan Olazo were arrested in the kitchen-type drug laboratory on Unit 301 of The Luxe Residences on 28th Street in Bonifacio Global City, where shabu or Metamphetamine Hydrochloride, ecstasy and cocaine worth about millions of pesos were seized.

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Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed in a text message that the drug syndicate had been operating in the country for seven months already.

She said the members import raw materials from Mexico, where  drug cartels operate, and then process these into shabu, cocaine and
ecstasy to be distributed to local market, specifically in night clubs and bars.

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The raid led by NBI operatives, in coordination with Taguig Police Station and the Southern Police District, also led to the confiscation of laboratory equipment such as heaters, sealers, weighing scales, and flasks were confiscated by the authorities.

Media reports quoted NBI as saying the plush condominium unit was said to have been rented and operated by a Canadian-Mexican-Iranian drug cartel.

Lawyer Medardo de Lemos, NBI officer-in-charge, said in an interview on Radyo Inquirer 990 AM that the suspects have a tie-up with another cartel in Canada.

The Justice Secretary further said that Riach and Espadilla are members of a dreaded crime gang in Canada and were convicted in their hometown “for various crimes.”

In December last year, the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force raided a Batangas ranch, yielding 84 kilograms of shabu worth about P400 million. The notorious Mexican Sinaloa Drug rented the property to launch its illegal operation in the country, authorities said.

Aside from the raid in Taguig, the NBI also swooped down on a condominium unit in Serendra, Makati, and in Manila but only the raid on The Luxe produced a large volume of illegal drugs.

De Lemos said an investigation is ongoing for possible identification of other drug syndicates in Metro Manila.

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TAGS: Barry Espadilla, BGC, Bonifacio Global City, drug cartel, drug raid, drug syndicate, Illegal drugs, James Riach, Leila de Lima, Luxe Residences, Mexican drug cartel, National Bureau of Investigation, NBI, operation, raid, shabu, Sinaloa drug cartel, Taguig, Taguig City, The Luxe Residences, Tristan Olazo
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