By Calvin D. Cordova and Aaron B. Recuenco
Cebu City – A ranking police official linked to the illegal drugs trade was shot dead in a buy-bust operation Sunday night in Mandaue City.
Police Senior Insp. Raymond G. Hortezuela, who was assigned at the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO), succumbed to gunshot wounds to the body.
Hortezuela, who was previously assigned at the Guadalupe Police Station in Cebu City, was the subject of a buy-bust operation conducted by the Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF)Visayas, Mandaue City Drug Enforcement Unit and Police Regional Intelligence Division (RID).
Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat, head of the Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF), said the operation in Mandaue City on Sunday night was the first time a police officer died at the hands of the anti-scalawag operatives.
“He resisted arrest and even fired at our operatives which led to the shootout. Our operatives were just defending themselves,” said Caramat.
On June 8, Hortozuela reportedly asked permission from his superiors in Negros Oriental to go to Cebu City to attend a court hearing.
In Cebu, that CITF operatives were able forge a deal with the police official for R2,000 worth of shabu.
The police said Hortezuela was about to be arrested after finalizing a shabu deal with undercover agents when he apparently sensed the operation and reportedly drew his firearm.
His action prompted members of the arresting team to open fire, which resulted in his death.
Recovered from Hortezuela’s possession were 75 sachets of shabu and P68,830 cash.
Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, Central Visayas regional police director, said the CITF has been monitoring Hortezuela for more than a year due to persistent reports linking him to the drug trade in the Visayas.
Hortezuela, based on intelligence operations, is a protector of Cebu-based drug lord Jeffrey Diaz, alias Jaguar, who was killed in the first wave of war on drugs in 2016.
“When he was assigned at the Guadalupe Police Station in Mandaue City, he was reported to have recycled recovered shabu evidence. After the death of Jaguar, it was believed that he was the go-between to some remnants of the Jaguar Group,” said Caramat.
“He was also reported to be a drug user,” he added.
It was learned that Hortozuela has two arrest warrants for various offenses. He is also reportedly facing administrative cases.