US help sought on Filipino-American tied to Mexican cartel

US help sought on Filipino-American tied to Mexican cartel

MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) is coordinating with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to locate the Filipino-American who is alleged to be the conduit of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel here and who has reportedly left for the US, a police official said Friday.

The alleged liaison has been identified as Jorge Gomez Torres, a cockfighting aficionado who leased the Batangas property that was turned into an illegal-drug storage facility that yielded P420 million (S$12 million) worth of shabu (or methamphetamine hydrochloride) during a Christmas Day police raid.

"It's a big possibility that he (Torres) is the contact. He left for the US the second week of December," said Chief Insp. Roque Merdegia, the spokesperson of the PNP Anti-IIlegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (PNP-AIDSOTF), in a phone interview.

But Torres' whereabouts in the US have yet to be established, he said.

Aside from Torres, police are also hot on the trail of the other conduits of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Merdegia said.

Not well-entrenched

In separate interviews, Merdegia and a military intelligence source said the Sinaloa drug cartel was not exactly a well-entrenched syndicate in the Philippines.

Instead, it is just among the several foreign organisations doing business in the international drug trade that has established a business network in the country, a military source said on condition of anonymity.

"It's one of the groups that enters the country but it doesn't really have a very big clout here. It is not well-entrenched but it has dealings with the drug syndicates here," said the source who is an intelligence officer.

Authorities have been hot on the trail of a local drug syndicate that is known to have had connections to the Sinaloa drug cartel since five years ago, the source said.

Merdegia said the Mexican drug cartels, not Sinaloa exactly, first offered cocaine to its drug syndicates here.

"But cocaine didn't sell well here that's why they shifted to shabu," Merdegia said.

Shabu, also known as the "poor man's drug," appears to be the drug of choice here because of the high cost of cocaine, traditionally known as the "rich man's drug."

Merdegia also denied allegations that the police operatives who raided the LPL Ranch at Barangay Inosluban in Lipa City stole chickens from the cock farm.

"Our search warrant only covered the house. I am sure nothing went missing in the compound. We have a certificate of orderly search which was witnessed by two local officials," he said.

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