Three suspects in Virac shabu buy-bust have previous arrests

NEARLY P500,000 WORTH OF SHABU were confiscated from three suspected drug pushers in Virac last week. One of them, Norlina Aiza Chio (in green shirt), was arrested in a buy-bust operation in April 2020 while the shirtless Bernard Zafe had just been freed from the national penitentiary this June 2021 after the Court of Appeals overturned his conviction by the Regional Trial Court in Virac for an illegal drugs case. (Photo by Arvin Anthony C. Tabuzo)

Three suspected drug pushers collared last week in Virac have previous arrest records, with one of them jailed for seven years before being freed by the Court of Appeals just last month.

 

In a joint operation conducted by the Virac police station’s Drug Enforcement Unit, the Provincial Intelligence Unit and the Regional Police DEU, 22 sachets of shabu weighing an estimated 70 grams with a street value of P476,000.00 were confiscated from Norlina Aiza “Aiz” Chio, 34, mechanic Mark Anthony “Men-Men” Yacat, 29, who is allegedly her boyfriend, and tricycle driver Bernard “Kalag” Zafe, 46.

Chio is a resident of San Pablo while the two men are both from Palnab del Norte where the buy-bust operation went down at 10 P.M. of July 21, 2021 at the house occupied by Zafe but reportedly owned by his sibling.

According to the Virac police, the arrest of the trio came after more than two months of surveillance on the suspects who were said to be selling shabu as per reports from citizens and a complaint filed through the “Isumbong Mo Kay Tsip ng Virac MPS” hotline.

An undercover police posing as a buyer contacted Chio through a confidential informant, with the woman agreeing to the sale.

Chio went into Zafe’s occupied house before going out and handing over four sachets of suspected shabu to the poseur buyer in exchange for the buy-bust money consisting of one real P1,000 bill and four copies of the same denomination.

A search of the three suspects as well as the house yielded 18 other sachets of the illegal drug in their possession which were inventoried in the presence of barangay officials and a media representative.

The police said

Chio is included in the PNP’s Regional Recalibrated Priority Database on Illegal Drugs and was arrested twice for the same offense in May 2015 and April 2020 after surrendering to the authorities under Oplan Tokhang.

The report also claimed that she was active in selling shabu to her clients staying in lodging houses and inns in Virac, with the contraband allegedly coming from a big-time supplier in Metro Manila.

The two men arrested with her also have prior arrest records, with Zafe released from the Muntinlupa national penitentiary after the appeals court junked his conviction by RTC Branch 42 last May 25, 2021.

The police said Zafe, who spent seven years in prison, is also in the Provincial Recalibrated Priority Database on Illegal Drugs.

Charges of violation of Sections 5 and 11 of Republic Act 9165 for sale and possession of dangerous drugs will be filed against them by the police.

Meanwhile, the Tribune learned that no case had been filed before the RTC in connection with Chio’s 2020 arrest for illegal drugs.

A court source said that records show no information was filed by the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office regarding the April 8, 2020 buy-bust operation against her.

The Tribune has yet to determine from the same office whether the police’s complaint had been dismissed.

It may be recalled that on that day, the Virac police seized nine sachets of shabu from Chio, including one that she sold to a poseur-buyer.

Several years ago, she was among those arrested by the police in a raid on an alleged drug den in barangay Antipolo del Sur.

Chio was with Floro Molina and an elderly couple were at the latter’s residential compound when the Virac police came to apprehend Leo Cino Bagadiong, who had been charged before the Regional Trial Court in four separate cases of violation of RA 9165 and in two other cases for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

The charges against Chio, Molina and the couple were dismissed for lack of probable cause on the ground of insufficiency of evidence.

It is claimed that in several instances, Chio had been used as a confidential informant by the police in the anti-illegal drug campaign.

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