A transnational syndicate of drug dealers is allegedly using Bangladesh as a route to smuggle "amphetamine powder" to different countries after bringing it in from India.
The smugglers are using Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) and international courier services to send the powder out of the country, said Muhammed Ahsanul Jabbar, director general of the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) in Bangladesh.
He said this at a press conference organised at the Segunbagicha headquarters of the department to brief journalists on the latest progress in an investigation into an "amphetamine" related case.
The department discovered this while investigating a case over the confiscation of 12.32 KG of amphetamine powder worth around Tk24 crore packed in a consignment of clothes.
They found the drug during a security check at the airport's Export Cargo Village on September 9.
Amphetamines are stimulant drugs, which means they speed up the messages travelling between the brain and the body.
Ahsanul Jabbar said that this is not the first time that the syndicate has smuggled amphetamine powder using Bangladesh as a route. He, however, did not disclose how many times or when the drug dealers sent these consignments out of the country.
With an aim to detect such smuggled consignments and increase vigilance, the narcotics control department is now planning to deploy a dog squad at the airport which will work in coordination with other law enforcement agencies.
The department has also instructed international courier services to install scanning machines so that no one can transport such illegal goods. Asked about taking action against courier services, Ahsanul Jabbar said that they are still investigating the incident.
In reply to a query, he said that the Department of Narcotics Control has a mutual legal assistance treaty with the Narcotic Control Bureau of India, and they have already requested their Indian counterparts to take necessary action to stop smuggling of the drug.
The way the consignment was seized
According to DNC officials, a cargo flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines was supposed to depart HSIA for Australia via Hong Kong on that day.
Seven out of 340 cartons in the cargo aircraft contained amphetamine. The drugs were in the packets of a courier service. The drugs were inside a consignment of garment items to be exported by a company named Neptune Freight. It was being sent abroad through FedEx courier service.
Ahsanul Jabbar said that Myanmar was a stronghold of amphetamines. "This type of amphetamine is legally produced in China. It is also legally produced in some places in India. It came in through our border and the plan was to send the item to other countries."
Law enforcers have so far managed to arrest thirteen people for alleged involvement in the smuggling. The arrestees include the so-called "mastermind" Abul Kalam Azad alias Bunty, a chemical businessman in the capital's Mitford area.
The other 12 arrestees are Rezaul Haque Bablu, Junayed Ibne Siddiqui, Babul Mazumder, Md Mazed and Bappi, Khandakar Iftekher Uddin Mahmud, Rasel Mahmud, Gazi Shamsul Alam, Kajol T Gomes, Hamidul Islam and Nazrul Islam.
How the racket operates
DNC Director General Ahsanul Jabbar said that the syndicate smuggled the amphetamine powder into Bangladesh through the Benapole border from India. In a primary interrogation, Bunty said they had collected the powder with the help of Indian chemical trader Habib Master.
Habib's associate Rajkhan was responsible to send the powder to Bangladesh after crossing the border illegally and later send it to Dhaka using different Bangladeshi courier services, said a DNC official quoting Bunty.
After the powder reached Dhaka, Bunty sold it out through his mediator Din Islam and Saiful to Junayed and Nazrul. DNC is now conducting a drive to arrest the duo.