The gang behind the moniker: Ninja Cops sell drugs inside Camp Karingal
By Nancy Carvajal for Politiko
(First of Three Parts)
Sometime in April 2016, a private helicopter landed on the grounds of Camp Karingal. Its passengers: a former congressman and Chinese-looking foreigners.
According to a police investigation, they flew into the police camp to buy back 500 kilograms of shabu seized in Poro Point, La Union. A witness told investigators that the former lawmaker and his companions met with Supt. Jay Agcaoili, then the head of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group, which had custody of the illegal drugs.
“They were there to negotiate with Agcaoili on the sale of seized shabu,” the witness told investigators.
Based on the police report, the illegal drugs haul was estimated to be worth P2.5 billion.
On April 18, 2016, Agcaoili announced his team seized P75 kilos worth of shabu with a street value of P375 million in a buy bust operation in front of a fast food chain outlet in Philcoa, about a kilometer away from the QCPD headquarters.
The investigation report obtained by Politiko tagged Agcaoili as one of the original members of Ninja Cops, a gang of rogue policemen skilled in mounting legitimate raids against individuals involved in illegal drugs due to their long-time assignments as narcotics agents.
The gang resells the drug haul seized in anti-narcotics operations to their favored dealers.
On top of reselling seized illegal drugs, the group also falsify police reports to protect the source of illegal drugs.
They are also engaged in kidnapping individuals suspected of involvement in illegal drugs and use them as suspects in staged drug raids, according to the police report.
An investigator described the member of the Ninja Cops gang as skillful and resourceful.
“Magaling silang lahat at madiskarte, kasi nalulusutan nila yung mga kaso,’’ the investigator said.
Original vs. copycats
The original Ninja Cops attribute their success in part to the people they pay off to turn a blind eye to their activities. Some of the personalities in their payroll include police generals, prosecutors, judges and even members of the media.
The gang also has a number of “alpha” assets or confidential informants scattered in various areas in Metro Manila, who are ready to do their bidding.
Loose ends are silenced with a gun. The former lawmaker who flew into Camp Karingal was shot dead last year, just days after his police security escorts were pulled out. Another witness to the transaction inside the police camp was killed by unidentified assailants in Malabon City.
While “ninja cops” are used in present news reports to describe rogue policemen, a police general said those who resell illegal drugs seized in raids were just copycats.
“They’re not like the real Ninja Cops who are well connected, with a wide network and vast financial resources,” said the police general, who requested anonymity.
“They just grabbed the opportunity to make money. They were emboldened by the Ninja Cops’ success, as well as their ability to elude charges,” he added.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino, a retired police general, confirmed that the Ninja Cops’ success spawned similar operations nationwide.
“They were called other names like ‘Ninja Small,’ or a volt-in group,” he said in a radio interview.
Thirteen former subordinates of ex-PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde were recently tagged as “ninja cops” for allegedly reselling the illegal drugs they seized in an anti-narcotics operation in 2013. The Department of Justice has reopened its investigation into their case.
Aside from Agcaoili, other cops identified as members of the Ninja Cops in the police report were: Senior Insp. Virgilio Santiago, Insp. Elmer Corbe, SP03 Dennis Padpad, P03 Rolando Yulo, SP01 Randy Fuentes; SP01 Rolando Yulo, SP04 Alberto Evia, SP02 Gene Nelson Javier, Insp. Ernesto Capungcol, SP04 Marcelo Alcancia, SP04 Eraldo Lectura, P03 Reynaldo Cuevas, P02 Eddie Camacho, SP02 Christopher Rivera and Insp. Luis Chico.
Meanwhile, the group’s alleged new recruits were identified as: SP02 Douglas Melendres, SP02 Albert Amurao, P03 James Barbajera, SP02 Jonathan Taguba, Sp04 Angelito Romero, P03 Gilbert Manalo, SP02 Louie Gabion, P02 Allan Ibalin, P03 Nelson Cruz and Insp. Eduardo Morata.
(To be continued)