Top narc busted: Say it ain’t so, Col. Marcelino
LT. COL. Ferdinand Marcelino led several large drug busts as head of the Special Enforcement Service of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the mid-2000s. On Thursday, however, he appeared to have been busted himself, in a turn of events that surprised narcotics and police officials.
Marcelino’s arrest in a raid on an apartment in Sta. Cruz, Manila, came as “a total surprise” to his former organization, Undersecretary Arturo Cacdac Jr., PDEA director general, told a news conference at Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, Thursday.
“He contributed a lot to the national antidrug campaign during the time of [PDEA Director General] Dionisio Santiago. Unfortunately, he is a suspect because he was present in a clandestine ‘shabu’ laboratory,” Cacdac said.
Marcelino, a Marine officer with the Philippine Navy, denied any links to drug syndicates, telling reporters he was on a “legitimate intelligence operation.”
For which agency he was on that intelligence operation was unclear, as the Philippine Navy said Marcelino, who was named superintendent of the Navy Officer Candidate School only on Monday, had no responsibilities for drug operations.
The Navy said, however, that it would cooperate in the police investigation of Marcelino.
Marcelino’s troubles began early Thursday when he and Yan Yi Shou, a Chinese citizen who served as interpreter for the PDEA in 2005, entered an apartment at Celadon Residences on Felix Huertas and Batangas Streets in Sta. Cruz.
Hardly had they entered the apartment than PDEA agents and policemen pounced on them.
“We were waiting for people to arrive and we were surprised to see him. He was not really on our radar,” Cacdac said.
“They had a key. After they entered, we implemented the search warrant,” he said.
The search showed that the apartment was a clandestine drug laboratory.
Senior Supt. Antonio Guardiola Jr., director of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (PNP-AIDG), said the authorities found 60 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride in four large trays in the crystallization phase of the making of the illegal drug locally called “shabu.”
They also found 3 kilos of finished shabu, chemicals and equipment for making the illegal drug, Guardiola said.
He said the drugs were worth P320 million.
Guardiola said the authorities also seized a beige Toyota Camry with Plate No. XEV 665 believed to have been used by Marcelino and Yan in going to the apartment block.
Cacdac said 64 wooden drums containing an unknown substance presumed to be illegal drugs were confiscated and five people, including another Chinese citizen, were taken into custody during a follow-up operation at a compound in Valenzuela City.
He said criminal charges would be filed against Marcelino and Yan.
He said several PDEA agents knew Yan.
“I suppose he really helped [the PDEA as interpreter]. But it doesn’t mean that when you help [us] today you can violate the law tomorrow,” he said.
Marcelino spoke to reporters as he was being led away by PDEA agents.
“We were verifying information from a documented active agent. It was a legitimate operation,” he said. “We just ran into each other.”
Turning to the PDEA agents, he said: “Why are you preventing me from giving a statement? I have nothing to hide. This is an intelligence project.”
Marcelino and Yan were temporarily detained at the PNP-AIDG office.
Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento said Marcelino had no authority from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be at Celadon Residences.
“We’re not going to tolerate anybody from the uniformed service who violates the law,” Sarmiento said.
But a National Bureau of Investigation narcotics agent said he believed Marcelino had been framed.
“Without questioning the legitimacy of the police antidrug operation, I think Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino had been set up. By whom it’s hard to say,” said Eric Isidoro, NBI head narcotics agent.
“He is a good operator and passionate in the fight against illegal drugs,” Isidoro said.
“I know him as a good person and a hard worker,” he added.
He said it was through intelligence information from Marcelino that the NBI discovered a clandestine drug laboratory in Camiling, Tarlac province, in 2014.
NBI agents seized shabu worth P3 billion and arrested six Chinese nationals in the raid.
“He has very deep connections and understands the illegal drug industry and if he says he was there for a job, I am inclined to believe him,” Isidoro said, referring to Marcelino.
He said Marcelino was also on top of the planning of the raids on the quarters of incarcerated drug lords at New Bilibid Prison. With reports from Nancy C. Carvajal and AP
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