The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) on Wednesday detained three people, including the ringleader of a human trafficking gang, from Dhaka's Paltan area over the trafficking of 27 Bangladeshi nationals to Vietnam.
Making the disclosure at a press conference on Thursday, RAB-3 Commanding Officer Lt Col Rakibul Hasan said 11 of the trafficked victims have already returned home.
He further said, "RAB had launched an investigation based on the allegations of 11 Bangladeshis who recently returned from Vietnam.
"During the primary probe, RAB found the involvement of Mash Career Services, JK Overseas Ltd, Advent Overseas Ltd, Shandhani Overseas Ltd and Al Noman Human Resources Ltd in this trafficking racket."
RAB also revealed that a number of Bangladeshi middlemen in Vietnam, namely Abdul Jabbar, Mostafa, Golam Azam Sumon, Kolpona, Azmir, Milon, Shovon and Atiq are involved with this gang.
The RAB officer added, "We have detained Jamal Uddin alias Sohag, 34, Kamal Hossain, 39, and Jamal Hossain, 37, after raiding the offices of Mash Career Services and JK Overseas Ltd in the Paltan area.
"During this raid, RAB also seized 254 Bangladeshi passports, mobile phones, foreign SIM cards, driving licenses, cheque books and a large number of police clearance certificates.
How did the gang operate?
According to RAB-3 Commanding Officer Lt Col Rakibul Hasan, during preliminary interrogation, the three detainees admitted to visiting Vietnam more than once and meeting with the middlemen there.
During the meetings, those middlemen claimed that there were job opportunities in Vietnam for Bangladeshis. The Bangladeshi agencies then lured in the victims with promises of jobs that paid up to Tk50,000 per month in that country.
Tempted, the victims expressed their interest in going to Vietnam. The agencies charged them around Tk4 lakh each for this opportunity.
The Bangladeshi agencies and middlemen then helped the victims get passports, and sent the digitised copies of these passports to their cohorts in Vietnam. Using data from the passports, those middlemen created fake offer letters and sent them to the Bangladeshi agencies.
The agencies then collected visas on behalf of the victims from the Vietnamese embassy in Dhaka using fake offer letters.
The Vietnamese government usually issues DN (business) visas for one year to attract foreign investment. The agencies forced the victims to take those visas in exchange for $2,000.
When the trafficked victims entered Vietnam, Bangladeshi middlemen from the racket received them from the airport. They then detained the victims, took them as hostages and confiscated their passports and other documents.
Later, the victims were beaten and forced to pay to save their lives. Agency middlemen extorted more money from the victims' families in Bangladesh.
At this stage, the trafficked victims started working on small jobs as they did not possess any work permits for permanent employment. Their lives became miserable and they could not even return to Bangladesh without the necessary documents.
Nazmul Hasan, 26, who went to Vietnam through the same process, became ill in mid-March this year and died without any treatment on April 3. Nazmul's relatives contacted JK Overseas, but did not get any cooperation.
He was later buried in Vietnam on April 27. JK Overseas sent 14 Bangladeshis to Vietnam in November 2019, but none of them have managed to find a job yet.
RAB has identified at least 10 more people involved with this racket and law enforcers are making a serious effort to track them down, said the RAB-3 commanding officer.