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Zamboanga Peninsula or Region 9 police authorities believe 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 partner in the buy-bust operation on July 4.
Those arrested were identified as P/Cpl. Abdul Michael Taluani Ladja, an active PNP personnel and one Edward Charles Brown.
Through 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 determine what the informant described as the “big fish of the syndicate.” .”
16 master cases of Astro Red in a Toyota Vios car and a Ford Everest van were recovered from the suspects.
The PNP officials did not have any other details but expressed optimism that the arrest of Ladja will cripple the operation of the syndicate, especially in the distribution and sale of smuggled cigarettes in Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay.
Ladja is the first active personnel of the PNP involved in the illegal sale of cigarettes with the informant claiming that the suspect is the main person of the syndicate in its operation in Region 9 particularly in Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay.
Authorities have also remained silent on the possibility that many active PNP personnel are involved in the illegal cigarette trade but insist that Ladja’s involvement is an “isolated case” and that the PNP is implementing a continuous process to purge their ranks. sequence.
In a similar development, police personnel manning the checkpoint in Purok 5A TCES Barangay Poblacion, Tubod, Lanao del Norte arrested two suspects and seized various brands of smuggled cigarettes in an Isuzu van on July 3.
Similarly, the authorities are also determined to attack shops that sell smuggled cigarettes.
Seized were 53 master cases of smuggled Champion with an estimated market value of P1,295,000. Those arrested were identified as Jerwin delos Santos and Joseph Bernardo who are facing charges of violation of RA 8424 or known as the National Internal Revenue Code Reform Act.
The continued enforcement of the trade is part of the increased Oplan Mega Shopper, a detailed plan by the authorities to eliminate illegal cigarettes in the province, smuggled or counterfeit goods.
The suspects are now detained at the CIDG Lanao del Norte PFU and are undergoing interrogation pending the identification of the owners of the smuggled cigarettes.
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