December 17, 2016 12:15 AM
By: Jennifer P. Rendon
WITH a good number of drug personalities laying low in the past months, one suspected lady drug dealer remained undeterred.
That is until afternoon of Dec. 15, 2016.
Lea Braga, 48, of Barangay Bacabac, Sara, Iloilo was arrested in a buy-bust operation at the said village.
After years of allegedly operating her own illegal drug business, Braga, dubbed by authorities as the shabu queen of Iloilo province, was arrested by members of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) Provincial Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group (PAIDSOTG) and Sara Police Station.
Recovered from her possession were eight sachets of suspected shabu and P1,060 cash.
Senior Inspector Ronnie Brillo, Sara police chief, said Braga is the No. 1 drug personality in Iloilo province.
Considered a high-value target (HVT) Level 3, she is ranked third in the priority target list of police in Region 6.
As to why she is on top of the IPPO’s target list, “she gets her supply directly from Munti,” Brillo said.
Munti refers to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City where the drug in the country is being directed.
Braga is believed to have established her Munti connection as her brothers Ricky and Renante are presently incarcerated in the prison facility.
“Through Ricky and Renante, Lea established a connection with a Chinese drug dealer,” Brillo said.
Aside from her brothers, they also have cousins serving jail time at the national penitentiary.
Brillo said that he received information that a jailed Braga brother stabbed a cousin for allegedly double crossing one of their drug deals.
Police surveillance operations revealed that Lea Braga goes to Manila twice a month to get her supply.
She also created her own network of drug pushers who operate in Sara and the neighboring town of Concepcion.
In Concepcion, most of their alleged customers are construction workers of a power plant.
Brillo said police learned of Lea Braga’s operation because of her “gambling spree.”
“For someone who is jobless, she could lose P10,000 to P20,000 a night in a game of tong-its (card game),” he added.
Braga was also subjected to Oplan Tokhang to convince her to surrender but to no avail.
Brillo said their records showed that Braga, a single mother, was never arrested for illegal drugs or any other crime until Dec. 15.
On June 15, 2014, IPPO arrested Renante in a buy-bust operation at Bacabac village.
Renante and his three cohorts were nabbed for possessing P1.2 million worth of suspected shabu.
On the other hand, Ricky’s was the first to hug the headlines after he was accused and convicted in the Bacabac massacre last August 12, 1998 that left 11 persons dead, including a US Peace Corps volunteer and a pregnant woman.
Following Renante’s arrest, police arrested their cousin, Melvin Braga, on July 2014.
Also arrested with Melvin were Roel de Asis, 28, of Brgy. Aposaga, Sara; and Jhonjie Asada, 20, of Brgy. Zerrudo.
Recovered from the suspects were 18 plastic sachets of suspected shabu, a digital weighing scale, a caliber .45 pistol with 5 bullets, a caliber .9mm Ingram machine pistol with 3 bullets, P1,070 cash and drug paraphernalia.*