Dubai: Abu Dhabi Police has nabbed one of the Philippines’ most wanted drug traffickers and is investigating whether he made drug transactions in the capital during his stay, the Philippine envoy has said.
Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Constancio Vingno on Monday morning confirmed the arrest of suspected drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night at 10pm.
Espinosa, along with his father Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, was among the key personalities mentioned in an intelligence report cited by President Rodrigo Duterte on the multi-billion peso illegal drugs trade in the Philippines.
“He is currently under investigation by the Abu Dhabi Criminal Investigation Department. He was captured last night at around 10pm.
Previous to that, there was police work done by our Philippine National Police, which provided information and sent a team here.
"On that basis, the UAE authorities came to know about the presence of the prime suspect Espinosa here in Abu Dhabi. The Interpol was also involved,” Vingno told Gulf News.
Vingno said Espinosa has been in the country since September 23 on a visit visa. Other media reports, however, said the suspect has been in the country since August 1. Espinosa was also said to have stayed in a flat in the capital, the details of which are under investigation.
“Authorities are investigating who are the people involved here, who helped him here. Those people around him they are all prime suspects. Who got the apartment for him because you cannot just get an apartment here without a residence visa? Somebody must have gotten it for him. There are many angles to the case,” Vingno said.
“Probably they [police] would like to find out if he transacted business in drugs here as well. Should that be the case, that’s another thing. There are consequences to that which he will be tried and sentenced,” he added.
According to the Dubai-based travel agency that facilitated Espinosa’s travel to the UAE, Espinosa used a different name in his passport which is ‘Rolan Espinosa’ when his full name is Rolando Espinosa, Jr.
“In the visa application, it was applied as a family. He was with his wife and three kids who are all aged 4 and below.
They applied for a three-month visa but their sponsor advised to just give 14 day-visas. The sponsor is an Abu Dhabi resident,” the travel agent told Gulf News.
Vingno said the ultimate goal for the Philippine police is to repatriate Espinosa so he could face charges in the Philippines. But that will be after police investigations in the capital have been completed.
“We don’t have any extradition treaty with the UAE. Any person who violates the UAE law and has a case in the Philippines cannot be immediately extradited because he has to face charges here first. It will be subject to the mutual agreement of both countries in the absence of an extradition treaty.”