Drone helps cops detect 70,000 weed in Balamban

AS THE terrain going to the marijuana plantations in the mountain villages of Balamban town, Cebu is tough and tiresome, the town’s police station recently deployed its best spy in the sky—a drone.

The Balamban marijuana problem has been a cat-and-mouse game, police said, as the farmers often evade arrest; after uprooting and burning the marijuana plants, the banned herb grows back again a few months later.

The town’s Barangay Gaas is the epicenter of marijuana cultivation, a violation under Republic Act 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

In September 2019, authorities eradicated 80,000 marijuana plants worth P32 million in Gaas.

Four months later, on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, the Balamban Police Station with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7 uprooted 70,000 marijuana plants worth P28 million in three sitios in Gaas.

Before the operation, Balamban Police Station Chief Christian Torres said they had flown a drone to check the areas, and the images collected confirmed the police officials’ suspicions—the marijuana plants were back.

Torres said the cultivators evaded arrest. He identified them as Rodrigo Cabalis, Lordi Progosa and Tisip Palando. The suspects planted marijuana in a government-owned lot.

The Cebu Police Provincial Office and PDEA 7 listed the suspects as high-value targets, whose arrest requires relentless monitoring, said Torres.

(AYB / KAL )