From slums to motels
Cebu Daily News  Philippines
By: Nestle L. Semilla, Norman V. Mendoza
22 January 2017

Illegal drugs and paraphernalia seized from inside the room of a motel in Mandaue City that was occupied by alleged drug dealer Francis Omolon are displayed atop the room’s bed for photo documentation purposes.  (CDN Photo Norman Mendoza)

Drug dens or “shabu tiangge” are apparently no longer just confined in congested slum-like areas but can now be found in places like motels, hotels, pension houses and condominium units.

The Mandaue City police has earlier suspected that drug pushers have found more posh private places to peddle their drugs, but they found no solid evidence of this new kind of shabu tiangge until yesterday.

Anti-drug operatives raided a motel based in Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City and found out that five adjoining rooms were being used as drug dens. From these rooms, the operatives seized some P700,000 worth of shabu and a firearm.

The raid also led to the arrest of nine persons—three suspected drug dealers and seven alleged drug users, all of whom are females who included a 15-year-old. A young man, reportedly an applicant for the police force, eluded arrest.

Conducting illegal drug trade inside hotels, motels, pension houses and condominiums has now become a trend for drug groups, affirmed Yogi Filemon Ruiz, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7).

elude police detection since they now have no permanent address

Ruiz said while this might not be a new strategy, many pushers now adapt and prefer this kind of style of peddling drugs to ensure their privacy and to elude police detection since they now have no permanent address.

Ruiz admitted they now have difficulty in tracing and apprehending drug syndicates and individual drug dealers that conduct their illegal trade in these kinds of places.

Alanas said they started an intensive surveillance operations on motels, hotels and pension houses in the city after they were alerted that drug pushers have started using these establishments to peddle drugs.

The women
The six persons arrested in the different rooms inside the motel were all women in their early 20s, who claimed to be residents of either Mandaue City or Lapu-Lapu City, except for a 15-year-old girl from Cordova town.

One of the arrested women admitted she went to the motel to avail of the shabu offered by Villanueva while three others claimed they were there as commercial sex workers hired by Cabahug, with a promised fee of P1,500.

The rest claimed they were mere companions of the other women.

The police have meanwhile asked the guardian of the minor to appear before the MCPO and bring proof that she is a minor before she will be turned over to the city’s social welfare office.

Veraque said they placed the motel under surveillance after they were alerted by the motel’s management that the three men had been regularly renting multiple rooms since early this month.

Police also seized a .45 caliber pistol with six live ammunition from Villanueva aside from illegal drugs and paraphernalia.

The seized items included 60 grams of shabu valued at around P700,000; drug paraphernalia, drug repacking materials, weighing scale, butane torch and P7,500 cash believed to be proceeds of the illegal drugs.

Seven women, including a minor, arrested inside several rooms of a motel in Mandaue City allegedly used as a shabu tiangge or drug dens are now detained at the Subangdaku Police Station in Mandaue City.  (CDN Photo Norman Mendoza)

‘Help us’
Ruiz, meanwhile, urged hotel managements to be more helpful with their anti-drug operations.

“The hotels should cooperate because we are not against them. Our operations will help their business. Who will like an illegal activity in their establishment?” said Ruiz in Filipino.

Ruiz said that right now, they only investigate hotels or motels that have been subject of illegal activities more than twice.

Ruiz said they had known for a while now that many criminal gangs, including those engaged in the illegal drug trade, have found it most convenient to operate inside hotels to maintain their anonymity and privacy.

In the case of motels, for example, criminals can easily get in and out of their rooms since they have private entrance and exits and their own garages to park their vehicles.

Drug seized
In the past three months, the police and PDEA-7 managed to seize P45.7 million worth of drugs in buy-bust operations conducted in hotels, pension houses and condominiums.

In October 2016, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7) confiscated at least 150 grams of shabu worth P1.7 million and arrested two persons during a buy-bust operation inside a hotel room in General Maxilom Ave. Cebu City.

In November, also last year, PDEA-7 arrested a 28-year-old woman and seized shabu worth P32 million in a drug bust inside her condominium unit in Sitio Banawa, Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.

Last month, PDEA-7 also seized a P12-million worth of shabu inside a pension house from an alleged big-time drug operator who supplies drugs in Carcar City and its neighboring towns.

the possibilty of training condo security guards

Ruiz said they were now mulling the possibility of training security guards of hotels, motels, condominiums and pension houses as “force multipliers” of the agency.

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