Dubai: Abu Dhabi and Philippine police officials are expected to discuss the case of the Filipino drug trafficker, who was arrested in the capital on Sunday, the Philippine envoy said on Tuesday.
Rolando ‘Kerwin’ Espinosa, Jr., 36, one of the most wanted drug kingpins in the Philippines, managed to evade arrest for two months in the Philippines before he was nabbed in a police operation here on Sunday, Abu Dhabi Police confirmed.
Interpol had already put him on the list of wanted people as requested by the Philippine authorities, a spokesman of Abu Dhabi Police told Gulf News.
“Necessary procedures were taken to hand him over to the Interpol,” he said.
Espinosa, who arrived in the UAE on August 1, was reportedly arrested in a flat in Khalifa City.
He and his father Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, who is currently detained in the Philippines, were among key personalities mentioned in an intelligence report cited by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on the multi-billion peso illegal drugs trade in the Philippines.
Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Constancio Vingno Jr said that a three-member team of Philippine National Police officers sent to the UAE to coordinate the arrest was expected to meet with Abu Dhabi Police.
“They are discussing the details on when and how the suspect’s repatriation to the Philippines will take place. Since this case is still under investigation, it might take some time,” Vingno told Gulf News.
“On my part, I have also requested the UAE authorities to visit Kerwin to know how he is doing and to see how the investigation is going. As ambassador, it is my duty, especially since this is a high-profile case. I am awaiting approval,” he said, adding that jail visits to Filipino inmates is part of the embassy’s services.
Gulf News verified with the ambassador if he knew details about Espinosa’s family.
The travel agency that facilitated their travel to the UAE from Hong Kong confirmed to Gulf News that Espinosa indeed flew to the UAE with his wife and three children, all of whom are aged four and below.
But Vingno said they have not received any information on this and have not received any calls asking assistance from Espinosa’s wife.
Travel agency speaks up
The travel agency, meanwhile, said that their business and good standing have been badly affected due to reports of some section of the media. Talks are rife among some Filipino circles that the agency was among those in cahoots with Espinosa, which the agency denied.
“We receive around 300 visa applications from Filipinos per day. For this application, they applied as a family, there was no reason to suspect anything. It was a normal transaction for us. We only process applications, it’s the immigration that does all the screening and issues the visa,” the travel agent told Gulf News on condition of anonymity.
Vingno said there will only be legal culpability on the part of the agency if they processed the visa application despite knowing beforehand that the applicant was a fugitive.
The travel agent denied having any prior knowledge of Espinosa’s criminal background and emphasised that they are ready to cooperate with authorities to provide information if needed.
— With inputs from Binsal Abdul Kader, Senior Reporter