23 drug users, dealers arrested in Intramuros raid
Twenty-three suspected drug users and dealers were arrested during an early-morning drug bust by the Manila Police District in Intramuros, Manila, on Friday.
According to the police, the raid in the so-called Banana Island area along Legaspi Street in Barangay 654, Zone 69, District V, was conducted as a follow-up operation on the murder of the three men whose bodies were found inside a tricycle near the National Museum on Thursday morning. Investigators earlier suspected that the killing was related to a turf war between rival drug groups.
Ermita police station Chief Supt. Alejandro Yanquiling told the Inquirer that they received information that the victims, identified only through their aliases Michael Kabayo, Toto and Baby Mata, were at the corner of P. Burgos because they were supposed to buy “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) from a group of drug dealers from Intramuros.
“But instead of making the trade, the suspects took the victims’ payment for the drugs and killed their customers,” Yanquiling said.
A jeepney driver told investigators that he saw four men aboard two motorcycles leaving the area after the shooting. The Ermita police chief also noted that based on the closed-circuit television footage of the killing, only two men pulled out their guns and fired on the victims while the two served as lookouts. He also told the Inquirer that the camera video was not able to capture a clear view of the suspects’ faces because they were wearing bull caps and hoodies.
Yanquiling explained that the heavily tattooed victims were all members of the Bahala Na gang, and based on the testimonies of other arrested individuals who are also members of the gang, the group would usually purchase drugs from suppliers in Intramuros.
“We conducted the raid in Banana Island because we received many reports that there are many drug dealers and users in the area,” the police chief told the Inquirer.
With the absence of a warrant, Yanquiling said they were not able to inspect the houses in the area but were able to arrest individuals who were seen using illegal drugs.
According to Barangay Chair Juvy Fuentes, many residents are also alarmed by the growing narcotic trade in the area.
“In the past years, we have observed that these drug traders have already stopped their operations but now they are slowly resuming their trade,” Fuentes told the Inquirer.
Friday’s drug bust yielded numerous drug paraphernalia from the residents in the area. The police team even noted that some were arrested while having pot sessions outside their homes.
But Yanquiling expressed concern that the possible suspects in the killing of the three men were able to escape before the raid.
“We are suspecting that somebody from the barangay gave them a tip about the bust,” he said noting that their manhunt for the murder suspects continue.
Meanwhile, the Ermita police chief said the arrested drug users and dealers would be charged with drug possession.
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