1,612 high-value drug personalities nabbed in 2018: PDEA

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) arrested 1,612 high-value target drug personalities nationwide during high-impact operations (HIOs) in 2018.

PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said Tuesday the agency launched anti-drug operations targeting people who play a vital role in the proliferation of illegal drugs on the streets.

This number, according to Aquino, includes 53 foreign nationals, 57 elected officials, 15 uniformed personnel, 43 government employees, 200 drug group leaders/members, 14 armed drug group members, 182 drug den maintainers, 10 wanted persons, 146 target-listed, other HVTs numbering to 407, and 485 drug personalities arrested in HIOs.

“Involvement of foreign nationals greatly contributes to the spread of illegal drug trade in the country. Majority of the foreigners arrested for drug-related offenses were Chinese nationals with 18 or 32.37 percent,” Aquino said in a statement.

A person is considered a high-value targeted drug personality if he/she is involved in illegal drug activities and falls under the following list and classification: priority targets; priority drug groups; government officials, either elected, government employee or law enforcers; foreign nationals; members of African Drug Syndicates (ADS); target-listed personalities; wanted listed personalities; celebrities and other well-known personalities; and members of armed groups.

In April 2018, five Chinese nationals were arrested during separate raids that led to the dismantling of three drug laboratories in Batangas and Malabon. The arrested foreigners were members of the Dragon Wu Syndicate, which is connected to the infamous “Golden Triangle” – known as the world’s foremost drug-producing region operating near the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

“Public servants and government workers are expected to lead the country in upholding the law. However, it is alarming to note that a handful of them are involved in the illegal drug trade,” Aquino noted.

As a result of law enforcement efforts against HVTs, a total of 115 government workers were arrested in violation of the anti-drug law.

The highest elected official arrested for the period is a Board Member, while the highest law enforcer is a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) with the rank of Senior Police Officer 2 (SPO2), and a legal officer (lawyer) of the Department of Agrarian Reform for government employees.

According to Aquino, local drug groups are the ones accountable for the distribution of illegal drugs in the market. They usually operate with transnational drug groups.

During the period, 200 leaders and members of local drug groups were apprehended. Among them were major suppliers of illegal drugs in the Visayas and Mindanao, who have been in the illegal drugs industry for more than two decades already.

On the other hand, out of the armed drug group members arrested, nine belonged to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and five were members of Moro National Liberation Front.

“The arrest of these high-value targets established their participation in the bulk distribution of illegal drugs in the country resulting in the high-volume drug seizures,” the PDEA chief said, adding that more high-value targets had already been identified. (PNA/Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)