GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Three alleged drug dealers were killed in a buy-bust operation in Fatima Village Friday evening as police campaign against illegal drugs continue to step up here.
Slain in the sting operation were Julie Bustamante, Lloyd Diesta and Ron Panes.
Police Chief Inspector Maximo Sebastian of the regional special investigation and detection team in Region 12 (RSID 12) told reporters the three slain suspected drug dealers engaged police operatives and elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in a shootout after sensing they were being set up.
The encounter took place near the residence of Bustamante who was reportedly hit on the leg but died on arrival at the General Santos City District Hospital.
His other slain companions were also declared dead on arrival.
Reportedly recovered from the suspects were a .45 cal pistol and a .38 cal revolver and a hand grenade.
Also found were 9 sachets of suspected methamphetamine or shabu.
Sebastian also said the 3 were also believed behind the series of holdup and robbery incidents in the city.
He said the slain suspects are part of a bigger crime syndicate operating in the city.
The police intelligence chief also said they are ascertaining if one of the slain suspects is the same alias “Boyong” that has been a subject of massive manhunt operations by police authorities.
Police have stepped up anti-drug campaign following a strongly worded appeal by City Mayor Ronnel Rivera to clean up the city from illegal drug syndicates by December.
In his State of the City Address in August, the city mayor threatened to cut off support to the police illegal drug syndicates and unexplained killings remain unabated.
On Thursday, police also arrested two suspected drug dealers also in the same barangay. Twelve sachets of shabu were also seized from the suspects.
On October 1, a suspected drug pusher was also slain in a shootout in Barangay after he held a child hostage when cornered by police operatives. (with reports from Jojo Bacalanmo)