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Guns, drugs, high-tech gadgets seized from plantation owner

 • 01:39 AM Mon Sep 14, 2015
Malu C. Manar
The cal. Barret sniper rifle seized by Magpet PNP from banana plantation owner Zaldy Pareja (in orange shirt). (Photo courtesy of Magpet PNP)

KIDAPAWAN CITY – Authorities nabbed in a highway inspection in Magpet town in North Cotabato a banana plantation owner for carrying unlicensed firearms and an explosive Saturday. Senior Inspector Felix Fornan, chief of Magpet PNP, in an interview by DXND Radyo Bida, identified the suspect as Zaldy Pareja, 32, and owner of a five-hectare banana plantation in Barangay Pangao-an, Magpet. sand// Also arrested was a 17-year old helper of Pareja whom the police later released for lack of evidence. Fornan said they apprehended the suspect when they saw the muzzle of a rifle, which was placed at the back portion of his Nissan pickup truck with plate number MBN 313 during a checkpoint inspection. The rifle, with four bullets inside, was clothed with a tarpaulin, along with some bananas inside. When the police searched Pareja’s truck, they saw a fragmentation grenade and a big bag that contained a two-way radio, LG tablet, Android phones, digital camera, pocket Wi-Fi, and other communication gadgets. Police also recovered a Colt 45 pistol loaded with five bullets tucked in Pareja’s waist. Pareja, when asked, told the rifle has been in his possession since February after it was left by a friend, whom he refused to identify. He also said he used the rifle and his pistol to secure his plantation from criminal elements. But investigators thought otherwise. They believed Pareja was into firearms’ deal and that he was set to deliver the rifle to a prospective buyer in a place in North Cotabato. Fornan said the suspect refused to give them the exact price of the rifle. But a US-made sniper rifle could cost from P70 thousand to P180 thousand, according to him. The suspect also denied he got the rifle from a Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) rebel. No, I took it from a friend. Not from the BIFF,” he said. Aside from guns, Fornan said they recovered from the suspect’s pocket Wi-Fi a sachet of shabu , a known illegal drug. Also, his two-way radio was tuned in to the frequency of the Kabacan Police. With these very sophisticated gadgets and firearms, I am sure that this suspect is a member of a syndicated group but we have yet to dig deeper our probe,” said Fornan. Pareja’s arrest came a day after police apprehended three suspected motorcycle thieves in a highway check in nearby Kabacan town, also in North Cotabato. Police recovered from the suspects a caliber 45 pistol. Records showed the suspects are involved in carnapping incidents and drug trafficking.

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