ON AUG. 29, 2016, news broke out that notorious couple Melvin and Meriam Odicta were killed as they disembarked from a roll on-roll off (RoRo) vessel at the Caticlan Jetty Port in Malay, Aklan.
Many saw that the illegal drug trade not only in Iloilo but in the whole of Western Visayas would suffer a big blow considering that Melvin Odicta Sr. was regarded as the region’s number one drug personality.
But did the illegal drug trade in Region 6 slow down a year after the Odicta couple was murdered?
For the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6), their deaths caused bigger changes to drug affectation.
“Given the statistics, it did,” said Superintendent Gilbert Gorero, PRO-6 spokesman.
PRO-6 data showed that from July 1, 2016 to Aug. 28, 2017, police operatives arrested 1,988 drug personalities in Western Visayas.
Gorero said 20,683 drug personalities surrendered through Project Double Barrel while 34 were killed in police operations.
He noted that several sub-group members of the Odicta and Prevendido Drug Groups and key personalities were either arrested or surrendered.
But it is notable to point out that Richard Prevendido, who is now the region’s topmost drug personality, remains at-large.
Despite the P1.1-million bounty on his head, Prevendido continues to elude police operations.
Gorero said the supply of illegal drugs was reduced after the deaths of the Odicta couple.
Shabu or crystal meth circulating in the region is believed to be shipped in by “new players” via RoRo vessels.
Melvin Sr., who also went by the moniker “Dragon,” was earlier identified by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 6 (PDEA-6) as one of the two drug group leaders operating mainly in the city and province of Iloilo.
Reports from Malay Police Station indicated that received a call from jetty port’s security guard at around 1:23 a.m. of Aug 29, 2017 informing them of a shooting incident in the area.
Prior to being shot, the Odicta couple was on board a 2Go RoRo vessel from Batangas.
They were pacing the port’s walkway when gunfire was heard.
Witnesses said two gunmen shot the couple.
The assailant first aimed at Meriam who was hit on the back while Melvin Sr. was shot in the head, leg, and chest.
Before their deaths, the couple went to the PNP headquarters Camp Crame on Aug. 25, 2016 out of fear for their lives.
Melvin already “surrendered” to the Iloilo City Police Office on July 15, 2016 during the implementation of Project TokHang (Toktok-Hangyo or Knock-Ask).
TokHang is part of the PNP’s Oplan Double Barrel, a two-pronged approach to the illegal drug problem.
The other phase is Project HVT or High Value Target which aims to neutralize the big fishes in the illegal drug trade.
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