Maute group believed to have more shabu stashed away in Marawi

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LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines – The P250 million worth of shabu that soldiers found in a hideout of Maute gunmen in Marawi City on Sunday was only a third of the group’s actual stockpile of drugs, local leaders said Monday.

Elected municipal officials in Lanao del Sur province said the custodians of the 11 kilos of shabu took with them more than 20 kilos more as they escaped when they sensed that personnel of the Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion were closing in.

Marawi City is the capital of Lanao del Sur, which covers 39 towns and whose local officials are mostly related to one another either by blood or by affinity.

“This group (Maute) keeps a very big volume of shabu, more than what had been recovered by the military,” one of the sources, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, told The STAR.

Another highly-placed source, a friend of the now detained Cayamora Maute, father of siblings and terror group founders Omar and Abdullah, said the five terrorists guarding the contraband that soldiers recovered – Salic, Ekram, Bantuas, Eismah and Indab – escaped with backpacks filled with shabu.

“Matagal nang nagtatago sila ng shabu na ganyan karami,” said the source.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. of the Western Mindanao Command said he received tips from local informants purporting that the Maute siblings were indeed keeping a big volume of shabu even before they laid siege to Marawi City.

“All information getting in are being screened and are being processed in coordination with other law enforcement agencies of the government,” Galvez told The STAR.

A former official of the executive department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said he has confirmed, from members of a big clan in Butig town in Lanao del Sur, that the 11 kilograms of shabu that soldiers found in Marawi City past 6:00 p.m. Sunday belonged to the Maute terror group.

Butig, a hinterland town in the first district of Lanao del Sur, is the hometown of the Maute family.

“Ang isang nag-confirm niyan ay mga malapit na kamag-anak din nila Omar at Abdullah (Maute). Hindi yun maaring hindi magsasabi ng totoo dahil Ramadhan ngayon,” said the former ARMM official.

Ramadhan, the Islamic fasting season that lasts for one lunar cycle or about 29 days, is a holy month for Muslims. Physically-fit Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during the period as a religious obligation and reparation for wrongdoings.

Galvez lauded the personnel of the 49th IB, a component unit of the 9th Infantry Division, for the large narcotics haul.

“That was a very big accomplishment,” Galvez said.