Drug, firearms raps filed vs 'El Patron' gang leader

By John Unson

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Besides suspected shabu, PDEA-12 agents also recovered from drug trafficker Ruel Lalisan Espinosa unlicensed guns and a rifle-propelled grenade. JOHN UNSON
KORONADAL CITY, Philippines — Criminal cases have been filed against an alleged leader of the El Patron drug ring, touted as the largest narcotics syndicate in South Cotabato province.
 
Gil Castro, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-12, said Wednesday that Ruel Lalisan Espinosa, arrested in Koronadal City on Monday, has been charged with violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and illegal possession of firearms and a rifle-propelled grenade.
 
“The cases were filed against him on Tuesday. We are thankful to the vigilant people who secretly helped us locate him,” Castro told The STAR.
 
Combined police and PDEA-12 agents found in Espinosa’s hideout in Barangay Santo Niño here P500,000 worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), two M4 assault rifles, a .45 caliber pistol and a live grenade.
 
Castro said their operation on Monday was assisted by the Army-led anti-crime Task Force GenSan and members of the police Special Action Force.
 
Espinosa is allegedly a senior leader of South Cotabato’s El Patron drug syndicate, whose shabu retail conduits operate in the provincial capital, Koronadal City, and nearby towns.
 
It also has contacts in Sultan Kudarat province and Tacurong City.
 
Castro said they are expecting more arrests of El Patron gang members soon with the help of informants in the city.

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