A Bangladeshi human trafficking gang has been luring people to undertake a highly dangerous journey by boat across the Mediterranean Sea to go to Europe, promising them a prosperous life in a European country.
The gang has termed the journey a 'game' where some win and some lose – those who are able to complete the journey arrive in Europe and those who cannot drown in the sea, said Commander Khandaker Al Moin on Sunday at a press briefing, after Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested seven members of the Rubel Syndicate, a Bangladeshi international human trafficking crime syndicate.
Acting on a tipoff, RAB intelligence and RAB-8 carried out a joint operation in Madaripur, Gopalganj, and Dhaka's Keraniganj and Jatrabari, from 10 pm to 6 am on 10 and 11 July.
The arrested are Md Ashiq alias Euro Ashiq, 25, the chief coordinator of the trafficking gang, Azizul Haque, 35, Mizanur Rahman Mizan, 43, Nazmul Huda, 31, Seema Akhtar, 23, Helena Begum, 42, and Poly Akhter, 43.
Upon interrogation, the detainees said they recruit people promising them jobs in European countries.
The syndicate would carry out human trafficking in three stages. First, their local agents recruit low-income people ready to go abroad to make their fortunes. Then, they sent these people to Libya and from there to Europe, sources said.
The arrested said Rubel, the main perpetrator of the Rubel Syndicate, runs trafficking operations in Bangladesh from the UAE, with the help of his family and close relatives.
Rubel managed to set up a connection with international human trafficking rings when he was in Libya from 2012 to 2017. He now runs his gang from Dubai according to allegations brought against him at the Bangladesh embassy in Libya.
His wife, Seema, detained together with Rubel's nephew, Ashiq, and two sisters, Helena and Poly, are the key members of the ring and play a major role in collecting passports and money.
Ashiq has been overseeing the syndicate's Bangladeshi ring since 2019, which is comprised of 20-25 people from Dhaka's Keraniganj area. He collects visas from Rubel who lives in Dubai in the UAE. Ashiq is responsible for transporting Bangladeshi recruits to Dubai.
RAB sources said the gang targeted people who can pay Tk7-8 lakh each.
The syndicate takes Tk5 lakh in advance for making a passport, getting a visa, and a ticket. After completing the procedures, people are taken to Dubai on a tourist visa and are then sent on to Libya. They collect the rest of the money, Tk3 lakh, from their family members once the trafficking victims are in Libya.
RAB source said the gang also has some foreign members who help to traffic these people from Libya to Europe.
In the operation, RAB seized 17 passports, 14 chequebooks, two ATM cards, documents related to bank accounts, NIDs, 10 cell phones, and Tk56,670 in cash.