Photo courtesy of Josephine Mae Cantal

Provincial authorities have launched a crackdown against a suspected illegal drugs network at the provincial jail.

Authorities said they suspect illegal drugs are being sold inside the provincial jail compound, prompting them to enforce stricter security measures.

“Maglilinis muna kami ng bakod namin at mukhang madumi na,” lawyer Teodoro Jose Matta, provincial legal office chief, on was keen on implementing tightened jail operation management explaining that, “We suspect there’s a distribution network inside.”

A packet of 0.086 grams of methamphetamine, locally known as shabu, was reportedly confiscated during a “surveillance operation” on Saturday afternoon.

A certain “Reyes” handed over P1,000 to a certain “Orpano” and “Basalo”, prisoners who are alleged illegal drug pushers, in exchange for shabu.

The other detainee, acting as the jail lookout, gave signal to the authorities which intercepted the transaction.

Some four jail detainees, who also served as informants, named several other prisoners included on the illegal drugs trade operation said to be proliferating inside the penitentiary.

Illegal drugs and other contraband

An alleged syndicated group, which may include jail guards and visitors, were involved in sneaking in illegal drugs and other contraband such as mobile phones and improvised weapons inside the provincial jail complex.

“Since last year, we’ve had several surprise inspections but they all turned out negative,” Matta explained pointing out the key role of the other “cooperative” detainees who also bid on the campaign against illegal drugs.

Some 36 touchscreen cellphones and improvised bladed weapons were seized during “lightning” operations that started September last year.

The culprits who were “caught in the act” having in possession of illegal drugs will face additional charges.

“If we find out who the distributors are, we will make sure na hindi na makakalabas yan. Baka dyan na yan magtatagal,” Matta added.

Matta and Rabago declined to disclose other information as “bigger” operations were set in motion to “entrap” suspected members of the illegal drug chain.

Strengthened security measure

Sonng “Bong” Rabago, provincial jail chief warden, said that additional jail guards will be assigned to enforce stricter body frisking, which may include checking of undergarments, to the visitors and jail guards who will come in and out of the compound.

“‘Yong mga personal na sasakyan ng mga jail officers hindi na rin papapasukin sa loob kahit mismo ‘yong sa akin,” Rabago added.

Random mandatory drug tests for jail guards will also be in place as they were also believed to be part of the illegal drugs operation.

“Every time we have surprise inspection, it always turns out to be negative,” Matta said suspecting the involvement of certain officers saying, “Tinitingnan natin ang anggulo na may kasabwat na empleyado kasi hindi naman yan makakapasok kung talagang mahigpit ‘yong pagbabantay.”

In 2016, during the onset of President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs campaign, he released a matrix showing structures of drug trafficking operations at New Bilibid Prison which consequently resulted to Senator Leila De Lima’s arrest in 2017.