Zamboanga's 'most wanted' criminal arrested

By Jewel Reyes, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga

Posted at May 04 2013 05:58 PM | Updated as of May 05 2013 07:59 PM

ZAMBOANGA CITY – (UPDATE) One of Zamboanga City’s “most wanted criminals” has been arrested by joint forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Barangay Sangbay, Hadji Mutamad in Basilan Saturday morning.

Margani Samla, alias “Bin Laden,” was captured following a three-day firefight among unknown armed men whom the PNP are still trying to identify, according to Police Inspector Gegeon Merza.

Aside from Samla, five of his companions were also arrested.

Merza said they were unable to recover any firearms during Samla’s arrest, but they found chemicals that could be shabu, as well as a weighing scale that was possibly used in drug pushing.

Samla is an alleged drug lord in Barangay Recodo and is facing arrest warrants for two murder charges, three homicide cases and a drug case.

Samla, however, denied these allegations and claimed that he is an ordinary fisherman. When asked why he fled, Samla said he feared for his life when rumors circulated that authorities were looking for him.

Samla said that if he is arrested, he will have difficulty feeding his family. He has two wives, one who stays in Recodo and another in Basilan.

Zamboanga City Police Office Chief Senior Superintendent Edwin De Ocampo is hopeful than Samla’s arrest will lead to other notorious individuals.

Samla is considered one of the “10 Most Wanted Men” in Zamboanga City. The amount of reward for his capture is still being decided by the Department of National Defense, but De Ocampo said the local government is prepared to give incentives for the troops who worked on his capture.