The Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) observes that the smuggling of drugs has surged through local and international courier services in recent years instead of sneaking them through traditional ways by contrabandists.
In the last six months from June through November this year, the anti-narcotics authority has recorded a total of 16 incidents of the crazy drug smuggling through courier services while the DNC and other law enforcement apparatus seized more than 60,000 pieces of the contraband pills.
Following the incidents, a total of nine cases have already been filed under Narcotics Control Act which are being investigated.
In most cases, DNC found that yaba and other narcotics were supposed to be smuggled into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States.
DNC sources confirmed that the two different contraband shipments which were thwarted in the last six months were destined for New York and Brooklyn in the US.
The anti-narcotics authority also came to know that the recipients of overseas-bound shipments are local nationals of respective foreign countries.
Following its observation, the DNC recommends that local couriers access the National Identification (NID) server to get to know actual information about shippers. The move will help curb drug smuggling.
Once DNC can ensure the NID access to local couriers, it would mull over the issue for international couriers.
The narcotics control authorities revealed their findings at a recent workshop titled "Preventing narcotics/drug smuggling through/via courier services and export cargo".
Different representatives from National Board of Revenue, Ministry of Home Affairs, Police, Rapid Action Battalion, National Security Intelligence, Director General of Forces Intelligence, Bangladesh Border Guard, Coast Guard, Directorate of Post, Ansar & VDP, Civil Aviation Authority, Chattogram and Mongla Port, Bangladesh Land Port Authority and chairman of Licensing Authority (Mailing Operator and Courier Services) joined the event.
The attendees agreed to the DNC recommendation.
Director General of Narcotics Department Ahsanul Jabbar told The Business Standard they are committed to curbing drug smuggling.
"In recent times, we have observed that drug peddlers are using local and international couriers to smuggle illicit substances. That is why we are recommending NID server access for local couriers as local banks do," he added.
"If the courier agencies get access to the NID server, they will be able to know well about a shipper, who is sending goods to others."
The DNC also recommended that modern scanning machines and CCTV cameras be installed at different branches of courier services.
The courier agencies should provide video footage to the DNC and other law enforcement agencies when the latter need them.
Besides, the Department of Narcotics Control also asked the couriers to keep full addresses, NID card photocopies and phone numbers of senders and also receivers.
Apart from these, it also urged the Courier Service Association of Bangladesh and the Ministry of Postal Services to ban the activities of non-licenced courier services.
When asked, Mehedi Hasan, assistant director of DNC, told TBS most courier services take NID photocopy before shipment, but most of the time drug peddlers forge NID cards while the service-providing authorities cannot verify them.
"That is why an access to NID server is instrumental in identifying shippers well enough," he said.
Hafizur Rahman Pulok, president of Courier Services Association of Bangladesh, told TBS they welcome the DNC proposal to rein in drug smuggling.
"We have been demanding the NID server access over the last few years. The Bangladesh Bank also proposed that courier services get such access in order to stop money laundering and illegal transactions, but the demand is yet to be met," he added.
Rameshwar Das, assistant director (Intelligence) of DNC, told TBS in some cases, they fail to locate shippers, who submit forged documents and identity cards to courier services.
"That is why we are recommending NID server access for courier agencies so the service providers can verify the shipper's photo and relevant information before shipment is processed."
Contacted, Brigadier General Saidul Islam, director general of the National Identity Registration (NID) wing of the Election Commission, told TBS they have also come to know about the demand.
"Information contained in the NID server is confidential. We obviously welcome the DNC recommendations," he added.
"If DNC and courier service association approach us formally, we can go through their demand and scrutinise the act and regulations regarding NID information server," added Brigadier General Saidul Islam.