Philippine Daily Inquirer

‘Shabu’ sellers use kid to look like ‘ family’

- By Kristine Felisse Mangunay

WHEN they showed up to meet the buyer of their multimilli­on-peso merchandis­e, this six-member team brought along a seventh person—a 12-year-old girl—to make themselves appear like a typical family and not “shabu” distributo­rs.

A couple and their four relatives were arrested by the police early Saturday in Quezon City after they were caught carrying a total of 20 kilos of suspected methamphet­amine hydrochlor­ide with an estimated street value of P100 million.

The child whom they brought along when they met an undercover agent for the transactio­n was placed in the care of social workers.

Chief Insp. Robert Razon of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) identified the arrested suspects as Ruel Balacuit, his wife Fe, his brother Rhoniel, and their cousins James Lumpong; Samia Sultan; and Akmad Bato.

The NCRPO’s Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs-Special Operation Task Group placed them under surveillan­ce for two weeks before arranging a transactio­n using a poseur buyer, who met the suspects around 2 a.m. at the corner of Morato Street and Timog Avenue, Barangay South Triangle.

“It is their family business. They are high-value targets when it comes to disposal,” said Razon, who heads the task group.

They helped distribute shabu among “big buyers” in the metropolis, he added. In an organizati­onal chart, Balacuit’s group would form the “second layer” just below the leader or drug lord, and above the “third-level players” who cater to small-time drug users, the official added.

“We are sure they are part of a bigger syndicate and not the leader. Because leaders never face potential buyers,” he added.

In the buy-bust operation, the undercover agent was first approached by Ruel Balacuit, who arrived in a green Mitsubishi Lancer (WPP 466), with wife Fe as his driver.

After the buyer showed Balacuit a stack of cash as payment for five kilos of shabu, the suspect got off the Lancer and walked to a grey Toyota Vios (PII 948) that had been parked nearby.

He told the buyer that “the rest of his family” were in that second car, Razon said. “They brought along a child so no one would suspect them of anything. (Balacuit) then got the stock from that car and returned to the Lancer. The transactio­n was completed (in Balacuit’s car) and that’s when we moved in for the the arrest.”

Aside from the five kilos that were sold, 15 more kilos were recovered from the suspects. The 12-year-old girl—a niece of one of the suspects—was turned over to the Quezon City social welfare office.

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