Gunmakers for rebels nabbed in Maguindanao drug raid
PANDAG, MAGUINDANAO —Five suspected Islamic State sympathizers, who police said made guns for the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and their allies, were arrested in an antidrug raid in this town on Wednesday, an Army official said.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion, said police arrested Dante Karatuan, 34; Roy Datukali, 22; Jomar Jainal, 20; Gale Mangandaong, 20; and Jerry Talib, 39, in a house in Barangay Kayaga here for allegedly trading illegal drugs and supplying firearms to rebels.
The raid, led by Cabunoc and Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, yielded not only “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) but also explosives, guns and equipment used in manufacturing firearms.
Government troops also recovered ingredients for the manufacture of improvised explosive devices, a laptop computer, gun parts, a fragmentation grenade, camera and P16,000 in cash.
Cabunoc said the suspects’ arrest came after a drug peddler, who police arrested on Tuesday, informed authorities about his supply source.
He said authorities were trying to determine whether the suspects also supplied guns to the Maute terror group, which government forces have been battling since May 23 when its members occupied sections of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province.
Cabunoc said the gun-making equipment recovered during the raid were capable of fabricating replicas of Barrett sniper rifles that the BIFF and their allies had been using.
He said the suspects would be charged with violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and with illegal possession of firearms. —EDWIN FERNANDEZ
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