Monday, December 5, 2016

Bicol police exec: Shabu lab in Catanduanes can process 100 kgs of shabu per cycle

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- A top police official in Bicol, who inspected the clandestine shabu laboratory in Virac, Catanduanes after it was raided by a combined team of antinarcotics lawmen last Saturday, said the facility could produce around 100 kilograms of "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) per cycle.

“The shabu laboratory was discovered five months since 71 bulks of shabu with an estimated street value of P2.13 million was recovered by the police in Barangay Balangonan in Pandan, Catanduanes,” said Bicol Police Director Ramon Melvin Buenafe, in an interview Tuesday.

He said the shabu facility raided on Saturday was inside a warehouse located in Barangay Palta Small in Virac town.

Buenafe said the warehouse, that used to manufacture plastic, is on a 400-square-meter lot owned by Angelica Balmadrid and leased in March this year to Jayson Gonzales Uy, a Taiwanese national.

“It is equipped with closed circuit television cameras,” he said.

Benafe said the raiding team found a hydrogenator, weighing scale, various glasswares, motorized mixing apparatus and chemicals believed to be ingredients in producing shabu.

He said the getaway vehicle of Uy, who fled after the Saturday incident, has been recovered after it was abandoned at Caramoran town, also in Catanduanes.

Buenafe said the warehouse caretaker, a certain Laurence Perenia, is now undergoing investigation and police are preparing to file charges against him.

He said an anti-illegal drug alliance in the province called “Kasurog Kontra Droga” has helped discover the shabu laboratory.

Buenafe thanked those who provided information so the police could organize a team that conducted the operation.

Meanwhile, Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua and Virac town Mayor Samuel Laynes denied allegations linking them to illegal drug operations in the island province.

Cua said election propaganda has been linking his name to illegal drugs since the 2004 elections.

"I was really surprised about this because Catanduanes is just a small area for a shabu laboratory," he said.

Cua said it is his first time to hear the name of Uy, lessee of the property where the shabu facility was found.

The governor, whose business has expanded from San Andres town to Virac over 20 years ago, said the truth will come out once Uy is arrested.

"I'm glad this was discovered so we will know who is really involved in illegal drugs in Catanduanes," said Cua who was elected governor during the last May elections. He replaced Araceli Wong as governor but prior to Wong’s term, Cua was also governor from 2010 to 2013.

On the other hand, Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes said the shabu laboratory was already constructed even before he became the town mayor.

"I don't know why my name is being linked to the shabu laboratory," he said.

Laynes added he was part of the team which secured the area when it was inspected by Buenafe.

Police data showed more than 600 drug personalities have surrendered in Virac since Oplan Tokhang was launched in July.

Laynes said the illegal drug campaign has covered all the 62 barangays in the provincial capital of Virac.

"We are proud to say that we have conducted an intense and saturated campaign against illegal drugs in Virac," he said Leynes, formerly the general manager of Catanduanes Electric Cooperative before becoming Virac mayor.

He said there were more than 600 drug surrenderees in Virac since Oplan Tokhang was launched July 1 this year.

The team which inspected the shabu laboratory was headed by Buenafe and included Supt. Alex Pederio of Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group, Chief Insp. Edgar Moraleda of Catanduanes Public Safety Company and Catanduanes Provincial Police Office headed by Chief Insp. James Ronatay Balmadrid, the lot owner and Laynes joined the inspection team. (PNA) LAP/GVR/ALAN TAN/EDS