The suspects, former call center employees Ernesto Lou Ceniza Mercado, 41, and Kevin Charles Sanchez, 31, were caught by the team led by Bienvenido Panican, a senior investigator at the Mandaue District Office of the the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI 7).
Agents had to chase the suspects for four hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., before they were able to arrest them in the Heritage Plaza, which is near the Mandaue City Hall.
Panican said the suspects denied they were members of a syndicate, but he said Mercado had been identified by other law enforcement agencies as a high-level personality.
The NBI 7 still has to identify the cohorts and suppliers of the suspects who could be involved in the drug trade for quite some time now.
Before the arrest happened, Panican said they had put the suspects under surveillance after receiving information about their illegal activities. The NBI 7 confirmed the suspects’ involvement in selling illegal drugs after two weeks.
This confirmation led to the drug bust; when the suspects noticed they were dealing with law enforcers, they tried to escape on board their vehicle.
NBI 7 Mandaue District Office agent-in-charge Arnel Pura denied a shootout happened, saying one of the agents had to shoot at one of the tires of the vehicle driven by Sanchez so the suspects would surrender.
He said their operation was coordinated with the Mandaue City Police Office and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 7.
After the suspects’ arrest, the NBI 7 agents seized three medium packs containing shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) worth P50,000, and drug paraphernalia: a tooter, tin foil and a lighter.
The suspects will face complaints for violating Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2022. / HIC