An alleged leader of an organized crime group linked to a series of robbery hold-up incidents and highway robberies, was apprehended Sunday by the police in Brgy. Isio, Cauayan, Negros Occidental.
Nabbed by the combined team of the Cauayan Police Station and the Provincial Intelligence Unit of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office was Francisco Epogon, who was tagged by authorities as the alleged leader the Epogon Organized Crime Group.
The arrest of Epogon, who has a pending arrest warrant for the crime of robbery with violence against, or intimidation of persons committed by a band, that was issued by Kabankalan Regional Trial Court Judge Rodney Magbanua, also yielded a fragmentation grenade, town police chief Maj. Lowell Garinganao said.
Judge Magbanua recommended P100,000 bail for Epogon,30, who is now locked up at the Cauayan Police Station jail.
The group of Epogon was earlier linked by the police to the killing of a Belgian national, who was robbed of cash and other valuable items, at his home in Villa Angela, Brgy. Villamonte, Bacolod City last week.
LINK TO BELGIAN KILLING
Lt. Col. Ariel Pico, spokesman of the Bacolod City Police Office, said yesterday that an investigation is still underway to establish if Francisco Epogon was among the suspects in the killing of Belgian national Carl FmgNolens.
During initial police investigations, Garinganao said that Epogon vehemently denied claims of participation in the killing of the Belgian national.
Epogon was charged yesterday before the Negros Occidental Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for illegal possession of explosives, in connection with the recovery of a fragmentation grenade from his bag.
Epogon and his younger brother, Ruel, were arrested at a checkpoint in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, in March this year. The arrest yielded a .45 caliber Armscor pistol with two magazines containing 20 ammunition, a .38 caliber Armscor revolver with five ammunition, five more ammunition for a .22 caliber firearm, and a short magazine of an M-6 armalite rifle, police records showed.
But Francisco was ordered released by the Prosecutor’s Office during the inquest proceedings, while his younger brother Ruel remains in jail, as he has a pending arrest warrant for illegal possession of firearms in Barotac Viejo, Lt. Col. Necerato Sabando, Sipalay City acting police chief, said.
Members of the Epogon brothers were linked by the police to the armed robbery of the Northern Negros Electric Cooperative in Manapla, and of a distillery plant in Murcia, Negros Occidental, where they also took the firearms of security guards and more than P500,000 in cash, in February last year.
Garinganao said that while several members of the Epogon organized group have already been neutralized, they werestill able to recruit new members, who are also their relatives.
Garinganao said that members of the Epogon robbery hold-up group were also linked to the series of ransacking and highway robbery incidents in Cauayan as well as in the cities of Sipalay and Kabankalan, among other areas in Negros Island.*
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