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MANILA - Two Canadian nationals were arrested on Wednesday by anti-narcotics agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) during a raid of a luxury condominium unit in Metro Manila, the Philippines' capital region.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Canadian nationals James Riach and Barry Espadilla, together with their Filipino cohort Tristan Olazo, may have links with the Mexico-based Sinaloa drug syndicate.
"The (NBI) could not yet establish if the three suspects have links with Sinaloa although they are more or less certain that the drugs seized were from Mexico, based on their informant," de Lima told reporters.
Recovered from the three suspects were methamphetamine hydrochloride, ecstasy and cocaine worth about millions of pesos. The NBI said the three suspects may have planned to sell these to wealthy buyers in upscale bars.
NBI officials said Riach and Espadilla, who are both holders of Canadian passports, are members of the Vancouver-based drug syndicate Independent Soldiers.
The drug syndicate, they said, has satellites in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, and that it intends to expand to Asia, beginning in Metro Manila this year.
Citing reports from Canadian news outlets, the NBI said Espadilla was out on parole from a manslaughter conviction while both Espadilla and Riach have been arrested before in Vancouver for a number of crimes, including drug trafficking.