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Monday, July 15, 2024

Authorities tag an active PNP personnel as smuggling ring’s main man

POLICE authorities in Zamboanga Peninsula or Region 9 believed they have “neutralized” a syndicate behind the distribution of smuggled cigarettes in Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay with the arrest of an active local police personnel and his cohort in a buy-bust operation on July 4.

Arrested by elements of CIDG Zamboanga del Sur PFU in Purok New Society, Barangay Culo, Molave, Zamboanga del Sur were P/Cpl. Abdul Michael Taluani Ladja, an active PNP personnel and a certain Edward Charles Brown.

Acting on an intelligence tip, the CIDG in coordination with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of Health (DOH) in Pagadian City said they immediately formed a composite team to pin down what the informant described as the syndicate’s “big fish.”

Confiscated from the suspects were 16 master cases of Astro Red on board a Toyota Vios vehicle and a Ford Everest van.

PNP officials gave no other details but expressed optimism that the apprehension of Ladja would cripple the syndicate in its operation especially the distribution and sale of smuggled cigarettes in Zamboanga del Sur and in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Ladja is the first PNP active personnel involved in the illicit cigarette trade with the informant claiming that the suspect was the main person of the syndicate in its operation in Region 9 specifically Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Authorities also remain mum on the possibility that more PNP active personnel may have been involved in the illicit cigarette trade but insist the Ladja involvement was an “isolated case” and that the PNP has been imposing a continuing purging process among their ranks.

In a related development, police personnel manning a checkpoint in Purok 5A TCES Barangay Poblacion, Tubod, Lanao del Norte arrested two suspects and confiscated assorted brands of smuggled cigarettes on board an Isuzu van on July 3.

Seized were 53 master cases of smuggled Champion with an estimated market value of P1,295,000. Arrested suspects were identified as Jerwin delos Santos and Joseph Bernardo who are facing charges in violation of RA 8424, otherwise known as the National Internal Revenue Code Reform Act.

The sustained trade enforcement was part of the heightened Oplan Mega Shopper, an elaborate scheme by authorities to get rid of illegal cigarettes in the province, smuggled or counterfeit items.

Likewise, authorities are also hell bent on raiding stores selling smuggled cigarettes. The suspects are now detained at the CIDG Lanao del Norte PFU undergoing interrogation pending the identity of the smuggled cigarettes owners.


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