INTERPOL authorities have taken custody of captured suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Rolan ‘Kerwin’ Espinosa and are helping Abu Dhabi officials investigate possible violation of immigration laws he committed while hiding in the oil-rich city, Philippine National Police officials said yesterday.
According to PNP spokesman, Senior Superintendent Dionardo B. Carlos, the young Espinosa was transferred to the custody of the Interpol by Abu Dhabi officials and will be remanded to the custody of the PNP by the Interpol as soon as his investigation in Abu Dhabi is over.
“Sabi ng ating chief PNP, it may take about several weeks. Sana mapabilis iyung proseso ng deportation at ma-determine na wala siyang kasong haharapin sa UAE,” the PNP spokesperson said.
A PNP team headed by PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group director, Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro returned to the country on Thursday last week without Espinosa. The police team will be waiting for an advice from the Philippine Embassy for the decision on the case of Espinosa who is being held at the maximum-security Al Wathba jail.
As soon as Abu Dhabi authorities free him within the next few weeks, the PNP team will return to Abu Dhabi to escort Espinosa to Manila where he will be initially taken to the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame for questioning before being transferred under the custody of the Police Regional Office 8 headed by Chief Supt. Elmer C. Beltejar.
Officials said that Espinosa -- described as the second most wanted ‘high-value’ drug target in the Philippines -- could be released in a month’s time since Abu Dhabi authorities are still digging deeper into who provided him sanctuary in the oil-rich Arab state.
Officials said Abu Dhabi officials also want to find out the people who helped Espinosa flee to Abu Dhabi and stay there for weeks until his cover was blown.
PNP chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa said some Overseas Filipino Workers informed him of the presence of the suspect in Abu Dhabi when they spotted him in a travel agency trying to work out the extension of his visa.
Two Sundays ago, Espinosa was arrested by agents of the Abu Dhabi State Security Department and Criminal Investigation Division on the strength of a Red Notice issued by Interpol-Lyons and in coordination with a PNP team.
Apart from Ferro, the other members of the team who had already returned to the country are Senior Supts. Randy Feralta and Alden Delvo. The PNP team was accompanied by the PNP attache in Middle East, Senior Supt Enrique Magalona.
Sources said that Espinosa faces some penalty and even a jail term for violating Abu Dhabi’s immigration laws but his immediate return to the country will depend on arrangements between Manila and Abu Dhabi. The Bureau of Immigration said that the young Espinosa left the Philippines for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last June 21 via a Cebu Pacific flight. There were reports however that he went to Abu Dhabi via Hong Kong.
Ferro and his team immediately flew to Abu Dhabi waiting to bring Espinosa to the country by taking the first available flight to Manila once all necessary documentary papers for his extradition have been completed.
“Right now, the documents for the extradition of Kerwin Espinosa are being processed and if possible, he will be immediately brought to the country by Senior Supt. Ferro and his team to face the non-bailable charges for illegal possession of firearms, explosives and drugs,” one official said.
Espinosa, tagged as Eastern Visayas’ biggest drug lord and the son of now detained Albuera, Leyte Mayor Ronaldo Espinosa Sr. was arrested in the capital of the United Arab Emirates following information provided by some Overseas Filipino Workers to the police. There are an estimated 700,000 Filipinos living in UAE including Abu Dhabi, the second most populous city in UAE, the most populous being Dubai.
“Some OFWs working in Abu Dhabi recognized Espinosa when they say his photos splashed on newspapers and television and they reported his presence to me,” the PNP chief said.