MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Anti-narcotics operatives have arrested suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa in Abu Dhabi, Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa confirmed Monday.
Dela Rosa said he deployed PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group operatives to Abu Dhabi after some overseas Filipino workers tipped off authorities about the presence of Espinosa.
The alleged crime boss was arrested at around 2 a.m. (Philippine time) with the help of the Abu Dhabi police, the PNP chief said.
The suspect is currently in the custody of the Abu Dhabi police while Philippine authorities are preparing the necessary documents for Espinosa's repatriation.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte accused Espinosa of running a narcotics syndicate in the Visayas. He issued a shoot-to-kill order against the suspected drug lord after the latter ignored calls to surrender.
Espinosa's father, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr., earlier admitted his son, also known as "Boss K" in the underground trade, is involved in illegal drugs.
Sources earlier said the younger Espinosa left the Philippines on June 21 bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) also said Espinosa left for Hong Kong last June 1, after allegedly undergoing facial plastic surgery.
PNP spokesperson Dionardo Carlos meanwhile confirmed to ANC that the younger Espinosa first fled to Malaysia, but moved to Abu Dhabi after a Leyte court issued a warrant of arrest for him.
"He made some coordination with the travelling agency that he wanted to extend his stay in the said country. Unfortunately for him, and good for the Philippine government, he was recognized by one of our fellow Filipinos," he said.
Carlos also said the Interpol played an important role leading to Espinosa's arrest, after they announced to other police agencies that Espinosa is a fugitive under Philippine laws.
"When information came in, we got a red flag, red notice to Interpol. That’s the basis now for the Abu Dhabi to look for an evading fugitive like Kerwin Espinosa. Luckily for us, the information was also relayed to us, that’s why the Philippine team was sent to ascertain the personality, to identify Kerwin while in Abu Dhabi," he added.
Carlos said the earliest they expect Espinosa to arrive in the country is Tuesday morning.
"I believe the moment he is deported back to the Philippines, he will already be under the PNP’s custody. We will ensure the safety and security of Kerwin Espinosa until he is returned to the issuing court together with the warrant of arrest," he said.
"We will follow whatever the orders of the court as to the status or who will take custody of Kerwin Espinosa after his live person is returned to the issuing court," he added.
Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Constancio Vingno, Jr., said Espinosa first traveled to Palawan then Hongkong, then proceeded to Dubai and later to Abu Dhabi.
He added that the fugitive traveled to Abu Dhabi using his real identity. -- With a report from Henry Atuelan, DZMM