HO­TEL DRUG DEN BUSTED

Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Nes­tle L. Semilla and Fe Marie Dum­aboc

Mo­tels and ho­tels used as drug dens have been on the radar of law en­forcers, but the po­lice found yes­ter­day that drug ped­dlers and users still con­tinue to use this mode to trans­act drug deals.

A drug bust on Thurs­day by the drug en­force­ment unit (DEU) of the Mabolo po­lice led to the ar­rest of 14 per­sons found in­side five rooms of Prince Court, a ho­tel lo­cated in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City, with about P500,000 worth of shabu (metham­phetamine hy­drochlo­ride).

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, anti-drug en­forcers in Lapu-Lapu City also con­ducted sep­a­rate op­er­a­tions in two mo­tels on the Mac­tan Is­land city and ar­rested five per­sons and seized P172,000 worth of shabu.

Among those ar­rested in the Mabolo raid was Dick Ma­palo, al­legedly a hired killer and the sus­pect in the killing of an anti-drug po­lice as­set last May 14.

Senior Supt. Joel Do­ria, di­rec­tor of the Cebu City Po­lice Of­fice (CCPO), and Yogi File­mon Ruiz, the head of the Philip­pine Drug En-

force­ment Agency in Cen­tral Visayas (PDEA-7), said in sep­a­rate in­ter­views yes­ter­day that they would be ask­ing the Prince Court man­age­ment to ex­plain the in­volve­ment of the ho­tel or its per­son­nel in the drug ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Kasama na sila sa in­ves­ti­ga­tion. If ma- prove na wala silang in­volve­ment, of course co­op­er­a­tion ang hini­hingi natin,” Do­ria said.

(The ho­tel man­age­ment or at­ten­dants will be un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But if they can prove that they don’t have any in­volve­ment, we will ask for their co­op­er­a­tion.)

CEBU DAILY NEWS tried to get the com­ment from the ho­tel man­age­ment to no avail.

But Do­ria like­wise noted that the ho­tel staff should be the first ones to no­tice il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in­side their es­tab­lish­ment and should have im­me­di­ately re­ported them to the po­lice, sim­i­lar to what had been the prac­tice of the staff of other ho­tels or mo­tels in Cebu.

In this case, the po­lice were alerted of the drug deal­ings go­ing on at the ho­tel by a per­son who was in a re­la­tion­ship with one of the sus­pects and not from the ho­tel man­age­ment.

“Nakikita nila ang mga taong naglabas-pa­sok diyan and also the se­cu­rity guard. So dun tayo magko- con­cen­trate (The staff and the se­cu­rity guard saw those peo­ple who were in and out of the ho­tel. Our in­ves­ti­ga­tion will fo­cus on that),” Do­ria said.

Do­ria said the ho­tel could be charged for main­tain­ing a drug den since the sus­pects were within its premises.

“It can also lead to the rec­om­men­da­tion na ipasara ang es­tab­lish­ment if proven na meron silang in­volve­ment (It will also lead to the rec­om­men­da­tion to close the es­tab­lish­ment if it will be proven that they are in­volved),” Do­ria added.

Ruiz said he will also ask for an ex­pla­na­tion from the ho­tel man­age­ment.

He said it will not only be Prince Court but also other mo­tels and ho­tels in Cebu that were found to have been used as drug dens will be asked by PDEA to ex­plain.

“We will send let­ters to these ho­tels and mo­tels ask­ing them why there are still in­stances and cases their ho­tels and mo­tels are use for il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties,” Ruiz told CDN partly in Ce­buano.

The tip

On Thurs­day, the drug en­force­ment unit (DEU) of the Mabolo po­lice ar­rested 14 drug sus­pects in­side Prince Court as an off­shoot of trail­ing and try­ing to ar­rest Ma­palo, the al­leged killer of po­lice as­set Ed­uardo Carza on May 14.

The po­lice first caught up with Ma­palo on Wed­nes­day after­noon in Barangay Te­jero but he man­aged to elude ar­rest. How­ever, the po­lice were able to get hold of Ma­palo’s .38 re­volver, which he threw away when he es­caped.

A follow up oper­a­tion by the DEU led to the ar­rest of Roem Romero, the com­mon-law wife of Ma­palo, who later told po­lice where her hus­band was stay­ing.

She also told the po­lice that they have been do­ing their il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity in­side the same ho­tel, which the po­lice raided at dawn on Thurs­day.

Repack­ing area

Senior Insp. Jack­man Aton, Mabolo po­lice chief, said po­lice­men who barged into five rooms of the ho­tel found some drug sus­pects in the act of sniff­ing shabu while oth­ers were caught repack­ing the pro­hib­ited sub­stance.

Drug sus­pects led by Ma­palo were ap­par­ently mak­ing the ho­tel as their “repack­ing place.”

“Ara gyud na sila mag sigeg repack ug diha usab na sila mopahi­gayon sa ilang pag­pa­ma­li­gya (It was in that ho­tel where they repacked and sold shabu),” Aton said.

Aton said they were able to seize 80 grams of shabu with an es­ti­mated value of at least P500,000.

Look out

Some ho­tel per­son­nel could be con­duits since some room boys and at­ten­dants were nowhere to be found fol­low­ing the raid, ac­cord­ing to an DEU per­son­nel who re­quested anonymity for lack of au­thor­ity to speak to the me­dia.

Ac­cord­ing to source, these per­son­nel could have acted as look­outs for the drug dealer, the more rea­son why the ho­tel man­age­ment should be in­ves­ti­gated.

But the same source said that the man­ager of the ho­tel even thanked the po­lice for con­duct­ing the oper­a­tion, dis­claim­ing any knowl­edge of the il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties while ac­knowl­edg­ing that some of their staff might be in­volved.

Evolv­ing oper­a­tion

Do­ria said they have been con­duct­ing drug bust oper­a­tion on mo­tels and ho­tels and the num­ber of per­sons caught in Prince Court was their big­gest so far.

The drug sus­pects are “evolv­ing” and try­ing to trick po­lice by us­ing mo­tels and ho­tels for their trans­ac­tion, Do­ria noted.

Ruiz said drug ped­dlers have found ho­tels and mo­tels safer to trans­act their ne­far­i­ous trade since anti-drug raids are of­ten done in the houses of drug sus­pects.

Both Do­ria and Ruiz said ho­tel man­age­ments have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to se­cure their es­tab­lish­ments against these il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

Do­ria said the City In­tel­li­gence Branch (CIB) has also been brief­ing the se­cu­rity man­age­ment of ho­tels and mo­tels in the city on what to look out for to de­tect if their es­tab­lish­ments are be­ing used for drug ac­tiv­i­ties.

In Lapu-Lapu City, sep­a­rate raids at dawn on Fri­day in two mo­tels owned by the Q8 chain in Barangays Pajo and Gun-ob led to the ar­rest five per­sons in pos­ses­sion of shabu to­tal­ing 172,000, said Senior Insp. Felix Cleopas III, head of the Hoops Dome Po­lice Sta­tion who led the oper­a­tion.

Cleopas said the drug busts hap­pened be­cause of the alert com­ing from the mo­tel man­age­ment it­self and from a con­fi­den­tial agent.

Cleopas also said the drug ped­dlers ap­par­ently thought they were safer op­er­at­ing their il­licit trade in­side mo­tels in­stead of do­ing it their own houses.

PHOTO FE MARIE DUM­ABOC

DRUG HAUL. Senior Insp. Jack­man Aton, Mabolo po­lice chief, shows to the me­dia the pack­ets of shabu and other items seized dur­ing a drug bust on Thurs­day in five rooms of Prince Court ho­tel in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City.

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