DRUG SUSPECTS. What’s next for Noemi Jablo, former barangay captain of Desamparados, Jaro, Iloilo City and high-value drug target of the police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency? She and a companion (seated behind her) are detained at the police station of Pavia, Iloilo following their arrest on July 10, 2018. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – The prohibitive cost of shabu could help curb the illegal drug problem. Shabu, considered the poor man’s cocaine, may soon be out of the reach of the poor. It is getting expensive in Western Visayas, according to the Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RDEU) of the Police Regional Office 6.

The arrest of high-value drug suspect Noemi Jablo, former barangay captain of Desamparados, Jaro district, is seen to further cut the supply of shabu.

The antidrug campaign has constricted the entry shabu to the region, resulting to a drop in supply that in turn affected its price, explained RDEU chief Senior Inspector Kennith Bermejo.

From between P8,000 to P10,000 per gram last year, shabu now cost P12,000 per gram, he revealed.

But one arrest is not enough. According to Bermejo, “downlines” of Jablo are their next targets and these may include the suspect’s family members and relatives who may be poised to fill the void that Jablo’s arrest created.

“We are monitoring their activities,” said Bermejo.

Jablo was arrested on Tuesday in Barangay Ungka II, Pavia, Iloilo. Bermejo said RDEU operatives found sachets of shabu stuffed in the gills of the fishes she was selling.

“In the past two years we focused on high-value targets. The supply went down,” said Bermejo.

Two of these high-value targets were drug lords Melvin Odicta Sr. and Richard Prevendido, both of this city.

Odicta and wife Meriam were gunned down on Aug. 29, 2016 at the jetty port of Caticlan, Malay, Aklan.

Prevendido, on the other hand, was killed in a shootout with policemen in Barangay Balabago, Jaro district on Sept. 1, 2017.

Supply and demand reduction is one of the strategies of the Philippine National Police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to combat illegal drugs.

“The neutralization of the Odicta and Prevendido groups contributed to the slowdown of shabu distribution in the region, particularly Iloilo,” said Bermejo.
The police official, however, said shabu remained the illegal drug of choice of pushers and users.

“If we continue arresting high-value targets, the cost of shabu would further balloon,” said Bermejo.

This would hopefully discourage people from patronizing it, he added.

The RDEU chief said Jablo may have connections with the Prevendido drug group based in Barangay Bakhaw, Mandurriao district and the Bacolod City-based Jimenea drug group that has expanded its operation to Iloilo City.

Barangay Bakhaw is adjacent to Jablo’s Barangay Desamparados.

Jablo and the former barangay captain of Bakhaw, Remia Prevendido Gregori, were investigated by the Sangguniang Panlungsod in 2016 for suspected links to drug traffickers.

Gregori, sister of Richard Prevendido, was shot to death by unidentified armed men just this

June 24.

Bermejo said the arrest of Jablo and the death of Gregori were the recent big blows to drug trafficking in Iloilo City.

Both Jablo and Gregori denied involvement in illegal drugs./PN

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