A Bangladeshi national in Malaysia has been smuggling the highly addictive drug "Ice," also known as "Crystal Meth," to Bangladesh for years through a handful of expatriates, who reportedly have no idea what they are bringing into the country.
When these expatriates leave Malaysia for Bangladesh, the mastermind gives them small packets containing crystal meth – which look like silica gel. Most of the time, these expatriates face no trouble at the Dhaka airport while unknowingly smuggling packets full of the illegal drug.
Even when the expatriates face questions about the substance from Dhaka airport officials or at any checkpoints, members of the racket waiting nearby simply claim that the dangerously addictive drug is nothing but a form of silica used to remove moisture.
The Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police unearthed the information after interrogating six people arrested on 4 November over suspected involvement in the smuggling and sale of crystal meth.
The suspects admitted during interrogation that they have been selling crystal meth in Dhaka for at least the past seven months.
The DB is now looking for the whereabouts of the Bangladeshi national living in Malaysia – who acts as the mastermind of the whole operation. This man – whose identity the law enforcers did not reveal – also used to smuggle crystal meth into Bangladesh from China and other countries.
DB sources added that similar rackets might be active in Dhaka, which are illegally importing and selling crystal meth in the upscale areas of the capital.
Responding to a query, Additional Commissioner of DB Hafiz Akter told The Business Standard, "One of the arrestees, a dealer named Chandon Roy, used to sell crystal meth doses (containing 10 grams) for Tk1 lakh each.
"Using his gold import and jewellery business as a front, Chandon was expanding his illegal trade of selling the drug in Dhaka. He was serving as the racket's ringleader in Bangladesh."
On November 4, DB police carried out a drive in Bashundhara, Gulshan and Banani areas of the city and arrested Chandon along with five others. The other arrestees are Siraj, Ovi, Jewel, Rubayat and Canny. Police also seized 600 grams of crystal meth from their possession.
How did the racket operate?
DB sources said the mastermind in Malaysia gives small consignments of the drug to several Bangladeshi nationals bound for home. Expatriates who bring crystal meth to Bangladesh in their luggage have any idea about what they are carrying.
The expatriates unwittingly smuggled the drug into Dhaka in exchange for small sums of money and cheap gifts such as blankets. To take delivery, members of the racket wait inside the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport when a consignment of the drug is incoming.
When confronted by airport officials, the peddlers support the expatriates by claiming that the crystal meth is silica gel – as the drug has no smell and cannot be identified visually.
Providing more details, DB Ramna Division's Assistant Commissioner Javed Iqbal said, "The airport authorities and even the customs officials never suspected that crystal meth is being smuggled under the guise of silica gel.
"The Bangladeshi mastermind in Malaysia took advantage of the situation and lured the expatriates to smuggle the drug. Chandon Roy was the ringleader in Bangladesh, and he smuggled the drug in by air through his relative Sankar Biswas last October."
Chandon also used to import gold legally, but with each bar of 100 gram gold, he illegally imported crystal meth by falsely declaring the drug as a chemical for melting gold.
Who are the customers?
Businessmen, private university students and kids from rich families are the main consumer of the crystal meth in Dhaka, and their number is no more than a hundred, a DB source told The Business Standard.
"The DB is now looking for the consumers of the drug, in a bid to track down others who might have engaged in drug peddling themselves," said Javed Iqbal.
"One consumer purchased 140 grams of crystal meth for Tk14 lakh, and used the whole batch by himself," a DB official said on condition of anonymity, adding, "The drug dealers never sell crystal meth to unknown people, and they provide home delivery."
The drug has different names in different countries, such as Sebu, crystal meth and D meth.
"Made in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and China, the drug creates excitement in the user. The drug is consumable in three ways – smoking, injecting in the body and as tablets," said the DB official.
Meanwhile, Additional Commissioner of DB Hafiz Akter said, "Crystal meth is more powerful than Yaba tablets. The drug is mainly a nerve stimulant and its consumption increases hormonal arousal a thousand times more than usual.
"The drug also poses the risks of stroke, heart attack, teeth decay and permanent hallucinations.
When approached for comments, DB Ramna Division's Deputy Commissioner Azimul Haque said, "We are thoroughly investigating whether there are any other rackets active in the illegal crystal meth market in Dhaka.