- Over 100 drivers, helpers of luxurious buses involved.
- 61 drivers, helpers held in last one-and-a-half years.
- 35 luxury vehicles, mostly of well-known bus companies, seized.
- Mostly transported during trips to and from Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar, Chattogram and Dhaka.
Abdul Halim was making ends meet as a driver of Shyamoli Paribahan on Dhaka-Chattogram route.
But at some point, driven by greed, he got involved in drug trafficking and began transporting yaba pills by bus while on duty.
On June 26, he was arrested with 7,000 yaba tablets at Sayedabad bus terminal in the capital. Rony Miah, helper of the bus, was also arrested by RAB.
Before his arrest, Halim had transported a significant number of yaba consignments by Shyamoli Paribahan’s luxurious buses in the last one year.
During primary interrogation, both Halim and Rony admitted their involvement in drug trafficking on luxurious buses. They were making Tk7-10 for each yaba pill transported this way.
Police and other law and enforcement agencies usually do not check inter-district luxurious buses. Halim and Rony cashed in on this, and regularly transported yaba pills to Dhaka, said RAB sources.
Yaba is a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine, and is sold as pills. The use of yaba has seen a steady rise in the country over the years. A major volume of the pills consumed here are manufactured in Myanmar and smuggled through Teknaf and Cox’s Bazar.
In 2018, the authorities seized 53 million yaba tablets across the country. The total value of yaba business is estimated to be worth over $1bn (Tk8,438crore) annually.
Not only Halim, but a large number of drivers and helpers are involved in trafficking of drugs, including yaba. RAB sources estimate that the number would be more than a hundred.
In the last one year and a half, RAB arrested 61 drivers and helpers for their involvement in drug trafficking, while seizing 35 luxury vehicles used for the crime.
They seized buses of renowned companies, such as Shyamoli Paribahan, Hanif Paribahan, S Alam Service, Soudia Paribahan, Shohagh Paribahan, Ena Transport and Green Line Paribahan, among others.
Drug dealers are working in collusion with luxury bus drivers and helpers to transport narcotics consignments across the country. They are always improvising, finding new ways to do business.
“Since the government declared war on drugs, traffickers have been coming up with new transportation techniques. To evade police, they are now using luxury buses as safe passages of drugs,” said Mizanur Rahman, assistant director of the Legal and Media wing of RAB.
He said bus owners do not always keep a record of the personal details of drivers and helpers when appointing them. “Besides, their daily movement is not monitored.”
The authority of bus owners, however, denied this, saying drivers and helpers undergo proper checks and verifications before they are recruited.
“We always do that. Yet, they get involved in this type of crime,” said Abul Kalam Azad, secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association.
He said there is also counselling services for drivers and helpers in order to prevent them from committing such crimes.
“If we find any allegation against any of our drivers or helpers, we fire him. We work with RAB in this matter. In recent times, we handed over many suspected drivers and helpers to law enforcers, and they are now in prison,” added Azad.
According to RAB sources, eight Shyamoli Paribahan buses, four Hanif Paribahan buses, three Shohagh Paribahan buses, two Soudia Paribahan buses, and one bus of Ena Paribahan, London Express, S Alam Service, Keya Paribahan, Special Service, Banalata and Tuba Line were used in the last one-and-a-half years for yaba trafficking.
The drug was usually trafficked during round trips to Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar and Chattogram from Dhaka.
Mohiuddin Faruque, a company commander of RAB-2, said: “Drivers and helpers of long-distance luxurious buses can earn a lot if they can use the vehicles to safely bring narcotics to the capital. We are looking into this.”
He said drivers and helpers of luxurious buses had been placed under surveillance in the wake of the crime.