The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) says it has unearthed a crystal methamphetamine laboratory in the capital's Uttara area. They arrested six persons in separate drives or raids in the area on Thursday, for their suspected involvement in peddling different drugs.
The arrested have reportedly been involved in the yaba trade, a methamphetamine with caffeine, for over a decade and are now turning their focus on crystal meth, ice, and a cocktail drug called "Jhakki," for which there is high demand among youths of affluent and upper-middle class families, claimed Rab sources.
The arrested have been identified as Towfik Hossain, leader of the gang, and his accomplices Jamirul Chowdhury alias Jubeyen, Arafat Abedin Rudro, Khaled Iqbal, Saiful Islam Sabuj, and Rakib Basar Khan.
They were running the methamphetamine laboratory under pretext of operating a buying house for readymade garments.
"The methamphetamine and cocktail drugs are sold among closed groups, and students of different private universities are the main consumers," said Khandaker Al-Moin, Rab's media wing director, at a press briefing on Friday.
The Rab officer said that Towfik and Jubeyen have been operating a yaba peddling ring for over 10 years. They started selling methamphetamine two years ago as consumption rose among affluent youths in recent years.
"Rudro, arrested three times for involvement in narcotics dealing, operates the lab and manufactures the cocktail drug, while Jubeyen is the main funder of the ring. Jubeyen, who studied in London, is the accused in a murder attempt case," he added.
An electric shock machine, replicas of different firearms including air guns and AK-47s, yaba, methamphetamine, and foreign liquors have been seized from the possession of the arrested. The replicas of firearms and shock machine were used to intimidate people, the Rab official said.
"They set up the methamphetamine laboratory mainly to manufacture the 'cocktail drug', which is a mix of yaba, meth, spirits, sleeping pills and soft drinks," Moin said, adding that the mixed drug is gradually becoming popular among youths of rich families and students at private universities.
"The drug peddling racket has about 12 to 15 members who sell drugs to several closed groups of 45-50 people so they don't get exposed to law enforcement," he said.
"The drugs are collected from Teknaf of Cox's Bazar and upscale areas of Dhaka. Methamphetamine is usually smuggled into Bangladesh from neighboring Myanmar and in some cases, international courier services are also used for smuggling.
Earlier in February, 2019, the Department of Narcotics Control said it busted a narcotics manufacturing laboratory and seized a consignment of two types of new drugs, including crystal methamphetamine, from the capital's Jhigatola area.
Later on 5 November, the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested six men for allegedly importing a highly addictive stimulant drug, crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as "ice" in Bangladesh.
At least 600gm of the drug, worth Tk60 lakh, was seized during the raid.