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The Tk50 crore drug empire run from a Mirpur slum

  • Published at 07:56 pm May 28th, 2018
  • Last updated at 12:17 pm May 30th, 2018
A night-time view of the Chalantika Jhilpar slum in Mirpur, from where Nazrul Islam alias Nozu Sarder ran his massive drug empire Courtesy: Tahmeed Abdullah

Recent estimates by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Detective Branch (DB) put Nozu’s monthly drug trade turnover at well over Tk50 crore

For the last three months, the locals of Chalantika Jhilpar slum lived in relative peace with Nazrul Islam alias Nozu Sarder, 42, the drug lord who practically ruled the place, out of the scene.

But they were in constant fear of Nozu’s return, a very likely event considering he had been able to “manage the administration” many times in the last several years.

When news broke that Nozu was killed in a ‘gunfight’ with police detectives at Mirpur’s Chalantika slum area in the early hours on Monday, the look on the faces in the slum was of visible relief.

An elderly man who wished to remain unnamed said Nozu had claimed in front of him that it is not easy to arrest him as he gave money “to every place that needed to be taken care of.” But after he was exposed by journalists in February this year, Nozu visited the slum very little.

Another slum resident said no one knew where he and his family were living since a police raid in February.

Nozu Sarder came to the Chalantika slum more than 25 years ago, when that part of Mirpur was still largely devoid of buildings. As the population grew around that spot, the slum quickly became an easy source for drugs.

Nozu began as a pot dealer, picking up the trade from his brothers, who were then in Karwan Bazar, another drug hotspot. Eventually he became so successful his brothers came to work for him.

His drug trade came to include phensedyl, and then yaba.

Nozu had two elder brothers, Tofazzal Kazi alias Tofa Kazi alias Tofa Sarder and Babul Kazi, alias Babul Sarder. Shanti and Leela, two of his five sisters, his wife Hazera Begum, mother Sufia Begum and mother-in-law Felani Begum were involved in the drug trade. These women distributed the drugs from Chalantika slum. 

The women were also used by Nozu as a safeguard against law enforcement. They would act as lookouts and stand as human shields whenever police would enter the slum.

Slum dwellers said before the February raids, most young boys were running drugs for the Nozu family. The situation had now calmed down and the boys had started getting regular jobs, they said. 

But some still feared that Nozu’s surviving deputies would soon begin a bloody conflict for dominance, and they urged the authorities to maintain vigilance at Chalantika.

Asked who might potentially take the place of the drug lord, locals said it was unlikely to be anyone from Nozu’s family, but rather someone who would receive the blessings of the local politician who gave the man shelter.

They named Ward Counselor Rojjob Hossain, an Awami League leader loyal to local MP Elias Mollah.

Neither Rojjob Hossain nor MP Elias Mollah could be reached over cellphone.

DB West Deputy Commissioner Mokhlesur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune Nozu was running a massive drug trade, with dealings equivalent to Tk50 crore. 

“It is not as though he took all of it as profit. There was a strong syndicate of beneficiaries, and that is why he was running the trade without being arrested,” he said.

“We wanted to identify all the beneficiaries so that no new Nozu would emerge.” 

DB West unit sources said Nozu moved around since February, to his home Jannatul Villa in Koyra Munshiganj, and then Barishal.

RAB conducted a raid at the slum in 2016 but failed to arrest him. In February and March, police and the Department of Narcotics Control raided the slum again.

DMP identified Nozu as one the top five drug kingpins in the city. 

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