Authorities seize P3.4-M ‘shabu’ from Lanao politicians

Lanao del Sur Board Member Hussien Magandia (2nd from left) and wife Norhaima, during the recovery of more or less half a kilo of suspected shabu from the bedroom of their house in Bacayo, Tubod, Iligan City, in an early morning anti-drug operation, September 19, by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Region 10 and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). (Photo: PDEA Region 10/PNA)

ILIGAN CITY: Authorities have arrested what may be considered a big haul when they raided the suspects’ residence at Bacayo, this city on Wednesday by virtue of an arrest warrant.

Hussien Magandia, an incumbent member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Lanao del Sur representing the province’ first district, wife Norhaima, son Actar, and son-in-law Amin Dimal, an incumbent Marawi city councilor, were arrested Wednesday in their house at Bacayo, this city. 

The arrest, carried out by joint operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Region 10 and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), had siezed Shabu (metha) worth PhP3.4 million.

Authorities said the search warrant was issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 16 in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

“So far, they are the biggest narco-politicians [we have] arrested,” said PDEA-ARMM regional director Juvenal Azurin during the press conference at the PDEA-10 regional office following the suspects’ arrest.

PDEA has identified the suspects as belonging to the “Iwaram Drug Group.”

Azurin told the media the arrested elected officials were not on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s original drug matrix. 

“It took PDEA about a year to verify the suspects’ involvement in the illegal drug trade,” Azurin said.

“We were very careful in conducting the validation considering the fact that these personalities are prominent,” he added.

The PDEA official said they spent several months conducting validation, surveillance and intelligence gathering before carrying out the search operation.

Azurin said the illegal substance that was confiscated from the suspects came from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

The PDEA official did not name the person responsible for supplying the illegal drugs to the suspects, but he said that the supplier is a high-level inmate.

From Bilibid, the illegal drugs were then brought by land to Lanao del Sur, he added.

Azurin also said Norhaimah is the first cousin of Johaira “Marimar” Macabuat, the former mayor of Maguing town in Lanao del Sur and suspected “drug queen” who was on PDEA-10’s watch list.

Magandia is also from Maguing.

He said the suspects were considered by PDEA as distributors, operating in Lanao del Sur and some parts of Lanao del Norte prior to their arrest.

From these provinces, they distributed the illegal substance to a network of runners and pushers, who sell the meth to other areas in Mindanao, he added.

The suspects also have a few legitimate businesses based in Iligan City – a carwash, rice mill, and a rice trading – which they use as fronts to hide their illegal drug activities, the PDEA official said.

Azurin said PDEA will also be looking into the notebooks and bank documents seized from the suspects and use these in investigation. (With story from PNA/RSP)

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