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Three government investigators suspended in Philippines.

Manila: Three agents of the government-run National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were suspended for allegedly receiving P1.5 million (Dh121,611) per cell phone that they smuggled to some of the 19 drug lords at Manila's maximum security jail. They were temporarily incarcerated in Manila after they were found to have continued drug pushing activities with the help of jail guards at the national penitentiary in suburban Muntinglupa, senior officials said.

"I got the names of the NBI agents from an informant who belongs to one of the 19 drug lords who were imprisoned at Manila's NBI jail. There are indications that they are taking orders from officials," said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

The NBI agents smuggled three cell phones, a blue tooth device and a pocket Wi-Fi device that were hidden inside the soles of slippers, at the inner pocket of a water cooler, and in a plastic container under a dish of chocolate porridge, said de Lima. She added: "They allegedly brought in cell phones for a fee of P1.5 million per gadget."

"The informant also divulged that the three NBI agents were part of a team tasked to look for communication gadgets illegally possessed by the imprisoned drug lords," De Lima said.

The informant has since been enrolled in a witness protection programme. "He would not be safe from fellow inmates and now from certain NBI agents," the justice secretary explained.

An inspection of the confiscated phones revealed the imprisoned drug lords were receiving international calls for alleged drug transaction activities, said NBI chief, Atty. Virgilio Mendez, adding, "These calls could lead to networks of international drug pushers."

Drug pushing activities have saturated by 92 per cent, or include 1, 706 villages, in Metro Manila, which has a population of 10 million, and 20.5 per cent, or in 8,605 villages nationwide, warned Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) head, Director General Arturo Cacdac.

It is time for the government to establish a "serious and multisectoral anti-illegal drug campaign," Cacdac added.

Last December, 19 imprisoned drug lords were booted out of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) due to the construction of highly secured cells there.

The illegal drug trade of locally grown marijuana and imported and locally manufactured methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as shabu, reached $8.4 billion (Dh30 billion) as of 2013, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.

The Philippines is a transshipment point and a key producer of synthetic illegal drugs pushed in Asia. Drug cartels of Mexico and Nigeria have also started operating in the Philippines, the PNP added.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jun 13, 2015
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