27 bank accounts of 5 suspected drug traders frozen by Amlac in Zamboanga City – police
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Anti-Money Laundering Council (Amlac) has frozen at least 27 bank accounts – including two dollar accounts – belonging to five suspected drug traffickers here, the police said Tuesday.
Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, city police police director, said they received the notification from Amlac only recently although the Court of Appeals granted the freeze order last Sept. 2.
“I cannot provide the actual figure as to how much (was covered by the Amlac freeze order) but probably, billions of pesos,” Casimiro said.
He said the freeze order covered the bank accounts of Benilda Lao, Nimeira Cawanan, Al Najier Idjas, Pedzmar Lao and Danny Tan Go.
Benilda maintains several bank accounts, including two accounts with Banco de Oro; one with Philippine National Bank and two accounts at MayBank, according to Casimiro.
“These accounts will undergo forfeiture proceedings in the next six months, unless their legal counsels can prove those accounts containing amounts ranging in billions of pesos were legally acquired,” Casimiro said.
Supt. Joseph Ladip, regional head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Western Mindanao, said Benilda was considered the “drug queen” here or the head of a drug trafficking syndicate.
In 2007, she was arrested but the case against her was dismissed at the prosecutor’s level.
In 2013, a vehicle owned by Benilda was intercepted by authorities and policemen recovered from P1.7 million in suspected drug money. Again, she escaped prosecution.
In 2014, some P6 million worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) was recovered from a condominium she owned here but she evaded arrest.
She was finally arrested during a raid on Sto. Niño Drive in Barangay Tetuan on May 5, 2015.
Marvin Santos, PDEA’s chief of operations, said Benilda was known to be one of the biggest distributors of prohibited drugs here and neighboring areas.
“Around 85 percent of drugs flowing into Zamboanga City and nearby provinces come from her group. She is one of the leaders of the drug syndicates in the region,” Santos told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. SFM
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