The brother-in-law of suspected drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. was shot dead in his hideout during a joint police operation in Barangay Bato in Toril District, Wednesday morning.
Killed in the operation conducted by the joint operation of the Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU) 8 and 11, Toril Police was Leonardo dela Cruz also known as Jake Bolanio dela Cruz, Leonard Bolanio dela Cruz and Daot.
Dela Cruz is the husband of Marie Espinosa, who is the sister of suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and daughter of slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa.
Toril Police Station Commander Chief Inspector Ronald Lao said the operation was launched to serve four warrants of arrest against Dela Cruz. But Lao said Dela Cruz engaged the police in a shootout. An Ingram firearm was taken from Dela Cruz.
The joint operation was conducted by the RIU 8 and 11 teams, Regional Drug Enforcement Units of Region 8 and 11.
Kerwin, who is currently detained in Manila, is considered the alleged biggest drug lord in Eastern Visayas composed of the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran and Northern Samar.
Lao said Dela Cruz fled to Davao City from Leyte in September last year. Dela Cruz, who hails from Sitio Tinago, Barangay Beholho, Albuera, Leyte, has settled as transient in Barangay Bato, Upper Piedad, Toril.
Lao said Dela Cruz settled in Davao because he reportedly has many relatives who are residing in Barangay Daliao, Toril.
Dela Cruz was suspect in the murder of two police officers in Albuera and a municipal councilor of the same town. He was considered a high value target of RIU 8.
Dela Cruz was facing a string of cases for violation of Republic Act (RA) 8294 (Illegal Possession of Firearms) with Criminal Case No. B-11-04-40 issued by Judge Clinton Nuevo of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baybay, Leyte; RA 9165 (Dangeorous Drugs Act) with Criminal Case No. 16,785 issued by Judge Sisinio Virtudazo of RTC 4 of Tagbilaran City; RA 10591 with Crim. Case. Nos. R-ORM-16-00625-CR and R-ORM-16-00626-CR; a murder case with Criminal Case. No. R-ORM-16-00635 issued by Judge Girlie Yu of RTC 35 of Ormoc City; and, another murder case with Criminal Case No. B-17-01-03 issued by Judge Carlos Arguelles of RTC 8 of Baybay, Leyte.
Police are still conducting a follow-up investigation. Ayan C. Mellejor