Group resorts to kidnapping, gun-running to finance sex change expenses- CIDG

At least nine people have formed a group and resorted to kidnapping-for-ransom and gun-running activities allegedly to finance their medical expenses for sex change, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) disclosed on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

CIDG director Police Brig. gen. Ronald Lee said that since the founding of the criminal group in 2018 with nine original members, the suspects have already raised P4.2 million in kidnapping activities involving 14 victims, including a 58-year old Taiwanese whose rescue on Sept. 7 led to their identification and the busting of the group.

Lee identified the suspects as Jun Francis Villa, Lawrenz Lingo, Jhonas Belonio, Bernardo Torres and Mark Joseph.

Reportedly, they are members of "Warla Kidnapping Group" operating in the Southern part of Metro Manila specifically, Paranaque, Pasay, Taguig, and Makati.

In gay lingo, warla means a war, or to fight.

"Their modus is to lure victims from dating apps and sites to meet up with their beautiful members, then be kidnapped, bring the victims to their safehouse, extort money, and drop off the victims in random places around Metro Manila once the ransom is received," said Lee.

The group, according to Lee, is led by a certain Mike Collado Ebol.

Lee said they started working on the case after the rescue of a 58-year old Taiwanese who was kidnapped on Sept. 3 in BF Homes, Parañaque.

The group reportedly demanded ransom from the victim's family and was able to collect P308,000 in five different transactions on an e-wallet app.

CIDG operatives then tracked down the account holders and led to the surrender of Dewie Shaine Collado Garcia, Charlemagne Vargas and Christian Paredes.

In their statements, they revealed that the sim cards they owned were bought by Ebol.

"During the course of investigation, it was disclosed that the group was formed in 2018 where its identified nine members are all transgender women. The group already victimized more or less 14 victims including the Taiwanese businessman," said Lee.

"They were able to collect a total ransom money amounting to P4.2M which will be used for their sex reassignment surgery or 'sex change'," he added.

Lee also disclosed that the group is also involved in illegal firearms selling.

This resulted in various entrapment operations that resulted in the arrest of Villa and Lingo on Sept. 27; Belonio on Sept. 23; and, Torres and Pelonio on Sept. 29.

Seized were a caliber .38 and 2 caliber .22 revolvers, 5.56 improvised rifle and 8 rounds of ammunition, sling and eco bags, boodle with marked money.

Lee said they are now conducting follow-up operations against Ebol and other members of the group identified as Lexi Villanueva, Jaine Martinez, Hector Magallanes, Erwin Flores and Matthew San Diego.