Drug Lord Kerwin Espinosa.
Drug Lord Kerwin Espinosa.

TACLOBAN CITY, Oct. 17 (PNA) — The Philippine National Police’s (PNP) regional office here has welcomed the arrest of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa in Abu Dhabi, saying this will totally “cripple” the operation of the region’s biggest drug group.

“It’s a welcome development. Through Kerwin, we can strengthen our evidence against drug personalities in the region,” said PNP Eastern Visayas Regional Chief. Supt. Elmer Beltejar.

Beltejar made the brief statement after Kerwin was arrested at about 2 a.m. Monday (Manila time) in an operation conducted by the Abu Dhabi police and PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) in coordination with the Interpol.

“With Kerwin’s arrest, we can say that we have crippled the Espinosa Drug Group, the biggest in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas),” he added.

In a press briefing, PNP Chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa said Filipinos working in Abu Dhabi saw Espinosa and reported his presence to him. The country’s police chief sent a team to arrest the alleged big-time drug lord operating in the Visayas.

Dela Rosa said Espinosa is now under the custody of the Abu Dhabi police in the United Arab Emirates. He will be brought back to the region as soon as the documentary requirements are completed.

Chief Insp. Ma. Bella Rentuaya, PNP Eastern Visayas spokesperson, said Kerwin will be detained at the Baybay City jail as ordered by Judge Carlos Arguelles of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14 based in Baybay City.

Kerwin, the son of detained Albuera town Mayor Rolando Espinosa, has a standing warrant of arrest for violating Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

“We will give focus on his conviction in court, as well as his cohorts and protectors,” Rentuaya said in a mobile phone interview.

The two cases filed against Kerwin and his father stem from a police raid on the mayor’s house that yielded 11 kg. of shabu worth an estimated PHP88 million, and high-powered firearms. The mayor, who had been under local police custody, was arrested last October 5.

In a radio interview, Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, Albuera Police chief, said they want Kerwin to be under the custody of the local police instead of the sub-provincial jail.

“It’s not good to detain him inside that jail since it’s under the supervision of the provincial government. Remember that some top official in Leyte province allegedly received drug money from the Espinosa group,” Espenido added.

The local police have started filing cases against national and local government officials, police officers, media practitioners, and some private individuals for allegedly receiving payola from the Espinosa group.

It can be recalled that the elder Espinosa surrendered to dela Rosa on Aug. 2, a few hours after President Rodrigo Duterte demanded for his and Kerwin’s surrender within 24 hours or face a shoot on sight order.

Kerwin left his hometown and reportedly flew to Malaysia days before President Duterte assumed the presidency.

The PNP regional office reported that the Espinosa group supplies 30 kg. to 50 kg. of shabu every month in Eastern Visayas and nearby regions during Kerwin’s “heyday”. (PNA)