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Narcotics agents, police and reporters flank 60-year old imam Rasol Sarip (cuffed, seated) of Barra, Macabalan, following his arrest yesterday over his alleged illegal drug links. Authorities raided his home based on a search warrant issued by a court. (photo by nitz arancon)

Narcs catch imam in Macabalan raid

By NITZ ARANCON
and JOEY NACALABAN
Correspondents .

AUTHORITIES arrested an imam and a leader of weekly prayer meetings during a raid near a mosque and the barangay hall of Macabalan yesterday.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency regional director Wilkins Villanueva said the suspect, 60-year old Rasol Sarip, was arrested for keeping some 35 grams of suspected shabu and a 9mm pistol in his three-story home beside a mosque in Barra, Macabalan.

PDEA and the police raided Sarip’s house at around 8:30 am based on a search warrant issued by Regional Executive Judge Dennis Alcantar.

Sarip, tagged as a “high-value target” by PDEA, was arrested following about a year of surveillance operations, according to Villanueva.

Authorities said the suspected shabu were in five sachets and a cellophane found in a closet in one of the rooms. They estimated it to have a street value of at least P175  thousand.

Villanueva said Sarip’s house also yielded a Glock 9mm pistol with eight bullets, magazines, a holster, and P18 thousand in cash.

Sarip was brought to the PDEA headquarters here for detention. He is facing charges for illegal possession of prohibited drugs, and arms and ammunition possession.

The imam, leader of Wednesday prayer meetings in Barra, Macabalan, accused law enforcers of planting shabu against him.

Sarip said he has been a resident of Barra, Macabalan for about 40 years already and not once has he seen any illegal drug.

“Di man na ako ang mga druga. Negosyante man ako sa una sa mga alahas pero giundang nako kay sakit akong tuhod. Karon daghan ko balay diri sa Macabalan gipapletehan,” Sarip said.

Sarip however admitted that he owns the pistol. He said the gun has an expired license.

The imam also asked that he be subjected to a drug test to show that he is not a drug user.

But Macabalan barangay chairman Norbelle Saa said the sachets and cellophane of suspected shabu taken from Sarip’s house were not planted.

Saa said he accompanied authorities as they searched Sarip’s house. He said these were found hidden in the clothes in a closet inside Sarip’s room.

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