Negros Oriental top drug trader killed in shoot-out–police
CEBU CITY—The world is getting smaller for the associates of Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, Central Visayas’ top drug personality who was slain by the police last month.
Lito Belandres was killed in what the police said was a shoot-out in Barangay Canday-ong, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, past 8 a.m. on Friday, less than 24 hours after the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Belandres was a top drug personality in Negros Oriental who was a known associate of Diaz, said Senior Supt. Harris Fama, acting provincial director of Negros Oriental.
When Diaz was killed in a shoot-out in Las Piñas City, Metro Manila, on June 17, Fama said Belandres went into hiding in Dumaguete from his base in Oslob town, southern Cebu to avoid Cebu policemen who might be hunting down Diaz’s associates.
He, apparently, did not know that the Negros Oriental police were also hot on his trail after they listed him as the number one drug personality in the province.
Fama said they were also hunting down Belandres because of his involvement in the distribution of drugs in Negros Oriental.
“We were operating (independently from Cebu police). He was on top of our list so we were also focused on him,” he said in a phone interview on Friday.
Although he was based in Oslob, Belandres allegedly distributed drugs not just in Santander and Oslob towns but also in Dumaguete and several towns in Negros Oriental.
Negros Oriental is just 45 minutes by pumpboat from Santander to the province’s Sibulan town.
Fama said Belandres was a “Level 2” drug pusher who could dispose of 200 grams to a kilo of “shabu” weekly.
Sources said Belandres would get his supply from Diaz who had connections with a big drug syndicate from the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa.
When Diaz was killed, Belandres went back to Dumaguete to lie low in his mansion overlooking the sea.
Intelligence agents, however, were able to track down his whereabouts and applied for a search warrant which was granted by the local court, said Fama.
A raid was conducted by the Negros Oriental police at 8:15 a.m. on Friday but Belandres allegedly fought back. An exchange of gunfire ensued.
Belandres was brought to the hospital but declared dead on arrival.
The police also recovered shabu and firearms from the residence, according to the initial report sent by Negros Oriental police.
Although the operation was not intended to be timed right after Duterte’s inauguration, Fama said it became a sort of a welcome gift for the new President, who was known for his hard stance against illegal drugs.