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Drug war toll: 5 more kills and a hanging

/ 12:26 AM July 13, 2016
SHACK ATTACK  One of the five slain drug suspects is carried out of the shanty where, according to the Quezon City police, a buy-bust operation ended in a shootout Tuesday morning.  Edwin Bacasmas

SHACK ATTACK One of the five slain drug suspects is carried out of the shanty where, according to the Quezon City police, a buy-bust operation ended in a shootout Tuesday morning. Edwin Bacasmas

A DAY after killing four alleged members of a drug and robbery syndicate, the Quezon City police shot dead five men allegedly belonging to another crime group on Tuesday, again calling them casualties of a gunfight.

But a sixth death gave another grim twist to the Duterte administration’s escalating war on illegal drugs: The police also found a man hanging in the shanty where the suspects were tracked down and killed.

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The five slain suspects were the targets of a buy-bust operation launched by the Quezon City Police District—Station 4 at Sitio Kawayan in Barangay San Agustin, Novaliches, around 7 a.m., according to the QCPD chief, Senior Supt. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar.

Tagged as members of the Asero group, the suspects opened fire on the undercover policemen when they sensed the trap, forcing the officers to retaliate, he said.

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Eleazar identified four of the fatalities as Narciso Asero, the gang leader who was both a drug user and seller; Jun Catampatan; Efren Valdez; Romeo Villanueva, and an alias Unya.

Catampatan was one of the drug users who “surrendered” to the QCPD on June 22 and had their records taken under the “Oplan KaPak,” a campaign that encourages such offenders to come out in public for a chance to undergo rehabilitation.

Tuesday’s buy-bust also led to the arrest of another alleged Asero gang member, whose name was withheld by the QCPD.

Eleazar said a man was found hanging inside the ramshackle house reportedly built by Asero, where the drug transaction was supposed to take place. The identity of the hanged man was also not disclosed, but a QCPD report quoting barangay officials showed that he was a police asset or informant who went missing a day before operation.

The police believe that the suspects hunted down and killed the informant.

According to the QCPD chief, the Asero gang members had been squatting in the secluded part of Barangay San Agustin since last year.

After they constructed two makeshift homes at Sitio Kawayan, the other residents started fearing them for they would indiscriminately fire their guns, Eleazar said. The suspects were also known to have engaged in car theft, snatching and petty crimes, he added.

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“They were staying in one of the houses while the other served as their ‘one-stop shop’ where they pack, sell and allow buyers to have a ‘shabu’ or marijuana session,” the official added.

They were notorious not only in Quezon City but also in neighboring Caloocan as they had set up their drug business along the boundary of the two cities. “The Caloocan police also have them in their watch list.”

The QCPD said it recovered eight guns, a hand grenade, sachets of shabu and marijuana, and motorcycle parts from the suspects.

Tuesday’s kills brought to 18 number of the crime suspects shot dead by the police in Quezon City since July 1, or the day after President Duterte assumed office. In his inaugural speech, the President vowed to go fulfill his campaign promise to go tough on crime and challenged critics who question his “unorthodox” methods.

“But let us not focus on this number (of deaths) because we have also arrested 296 suspects in our operations, meaning these are the people who did not fire at our men and surrendered peacefully,” the QCPD chief stressed in an interview. TVJ

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TAGS: “Oplan KaPak”, Asero Group, buy bust operation, Drug suspects, Drug war toll, Quezon City police
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