A Baguio court has convicted “drug den queen” Cristina Dalida Escopete, 35, and two of his drug ring “Lieutenants” for drug sale and drug and paraphernalia possession, meting out at least two years in jail for the woman drug ring leader, at least a year for Steven Donne Rivera Halili, 27, at least P10,000 fines and 6-month drug rehabilitation for all three.

Escopete, Halili and Jason Due Prodon, 32, were taken on October 27, 2022 from an apartment on a three-storey building in Purok 8, Bakakeng Norte here, when agents of the National Bureau of
Investigation-Cordillera with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Cordillera operatives swarmed the two-room apartment allegedly used as a drug den and a drug distribution operations hub.

A former drug dependentturned government informant bought P1,000 worth of shabu from Escopete, prompting the former to activate a pre arranged signal for NBI and PDEA agents to swoop down at the apartment catching the trio. When frisked, a sachet of shabu weighing at least a gram of shabu was seized from Escopete’s wallet. Although nothing was seized from wifi cable installer Prodon, seven sachets of shabu were found from the ball cap of Halili.

A miniature digital weighing scale was also found from the pocket of Halili. Prodon who claimed
before authorities that he had been warning Escopete and Halli to stop calling in strangers inside the apartment, negotiated with the building owner months before the raid that he be allowed to rent the apartment for P6,000.00 Building owner Josephine Laroco had told authorities they often notice motorcycleriding men arriving and leaving the apartment during the night or Escopete meeting men outside the building compound handing out something.

Dogs don’t cheat about strangers frequenting the apartment, she had added. NBI agents undertook at least four test-buy operations with the help of two government informants aided with a surveillance camera to confirm and reconfirm Escopete’s drug dealing inside the apartment. Over P40,000 worth of drugs, drug paraphernalia like a weighing scale, makeshift scooper, lighters, a roll of aluminum foil including the buy-bust money was inventoried with representatives from the
Baguio City prosecutor’s office, barangay, media and the building owner herself.

Escopete and Halili pleaded guilty of drug possession charges, thus reducing their sentences from
drug sale, hence taking the court to sentence them one year to two years jail terms, fines and drug rehabilitation while the court only ordered Prodon to spend 6 month in a drug rehabilitation facility.

Artemio A. Dumlao/ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon