Justice department drops charges against alleged drug lords

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CLEARED: Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim.

Charges against a number of high-profile drug smuggling suspects have been dropped due to ‘weak evidence’.

The Depatment of Justice has dismissed charges filed against Peter Lim and 20 others due to failure by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to present sufficient evidence.

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In its official resolution, Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John Humarang and Aristotle Reyes said the CIDG must refrain from filing cases on the basis “solely of an uncorroborated testimony of an evidently self-serving witness”.

The resolution was approved by Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan on December 20, 2017, but was not announced publicly until Monday, March 12.

Aside from Lim, the special task force also dismissed the charges against self-confessed drug dealer Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, alleged drug supplier Lovely Adam Impal, Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan and Jun Pepito.

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As part of the procedure, the records of the case, will be passed to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for automatic review.

Lim was publicly named by President Duterte as one of the country’s biggest drug lords. He was also identified by Espinosa as one of his suppliers of shabu.

In July last year, the CIDG’s Major Crimes Investigation Unit filed a case against Lim, Espinosa and six others for alleged conspiracy to commit the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals”.

The criminal conspiracy, the CIDG said, was identified in Makati City, as well as in Central and Eastern Visayas from at least February 2013 to August 2015.

The CIDG presented as its lone witness Adorco, one of the respondents and the alleged henchman of Kerwin Espinosa.

Lim, who owns Hilton Heavy Equipment in Mandaue City, Cebu, has repeatedly denied the accusations against him.

Lim was first implicated the drug trade in 2001. He and his brother Wellington were subjected to a congressional inquiry on illegal drugs.

Two of their former employees — Bernard Liu and Ananias Dy — detailed the businessman’s involvement in drugs during the investigation.

The congressional panel that investigated the Lim brothers found probable cause against him and asked the National Bureau of Investigation to “fortify” the evidence against the siblings.

The case, however, did not move forward.

In July 2006, Dy was shot dead by two unidentified men in Cebu City.

Liu was found dead in his house in Talisay City in September 2011. A rope was tied around his neck and oil poured over his body.

Lim has expressed elation over the dismissal of the charges against him.

In a statement, his spokesman Jun Fuentes said: “Mr Peter Lim thanks the DOJ for rendering a just resolution because after all, the pronouncement of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II which found headline in Cebu Daily News on Oct 1, 2016, is correct.”

Aguirre earlier revealed that the Peter “Jaguar” Lim was actually slain drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, not the prominent Cebuano businessman.

Jaguar, a drug lord in the Central Visayas, was gunned down by police in Las Piñas City on June 17, 2016, two weeks before President Duterte took office.

Aguirre said there was a mistake in the July drug matrix released by the president.

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