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War on drugs: Inside RAB's master plan to choke off drug routes

  • Published at 12:05 am May 29th, 2018
  • Last updated at 12:54 am May 29th, 2018
RAB detains suspects during an anti-drug drive in Dhaka’s Geneva Camp on Saturday Mehedi Hasan
File photo: RAB detains suspects during an anti-drug drive in Dhaka’s Geneva Camp Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The elite force is focusing on border areas to halt the influx of drugs with an aim to destroy all the routes and bases of yaba

Law enforcers always attach special priority to the border areas of Chattogram, particularly Cox’s Bazar, because of its strategic location, which is shared with neighbouring Myanmar, the biggest producer of methamphetamine tablets in the world, and the ongoing special drive against illegal drugs is no different.

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which is leading the ongoing anti-drug drives across Bangladesh, is also putting emphasis on areas such as the Chattogram Hill Tracts and Cox’s Bazar.

The elite force is focusing on Cox’s Bazar, Teknaf, and Ukhiya to seal off the entry points of the deadly drug.

Some other bordering regions, including Cumilla, Bandarban, Jashore, Feni, and Chapainawabganj are also on the list for special plans.

In conversation with the Dhaka Tribune, some high-ups of the elite force said they will try to seal off different routes of yaba trade using their intelligence surveillance.

Also Read- War on drugs: 12 more killed in 9 districts

Law enforcers said the yaba pills mainly spread through Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar. The consignment first enters Cox’s Bazar then finds way to Chittagong and later spreads across the country. 

However, the ongoing random raids have forced the drug peddlers to seek alternative routes through mountains and hills. 

They bring yaba pills first to Khagrachhari and then send them to Feni, Dhaka, and Chattogram by using goods laden trucks.

To avoid the law enforcers, drug dealers are going to different places of the country through the sea via Barisal, Barguna, Hatia, and Patuakhali areas. RAB 7 Commanding Officer Miftah Uddin Ahmed said they are conducting drives to nab both big and small fishes.

“In addition to increasing surveillance, we are also planning new strategies to bring them to book,” he said, but declined to share any further details of the plan.

Apart from the Department of Narcotics Control, RAB, police, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), Coast Guard, and two intelligence agencies have made a list of drug dealers. The area-based drug traders list has been sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs from the Prime Minister’s Office. Sources said on October 12 last year, a report from the Prime Minister’s Office was given to the Home Ministry. 

The report made by a special intelligence agency showed horror scenario of drug trade in the northern region.

Also Read- Where have Teknaf’s top drug traders gone?

Five districts – Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha, and Chapainawabganj – have more than 150 drug spots and over 400 people control these spots.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on May 3 called on RAB to come forward to conduct drives against drug abuse the way the force achieved success in anti-militant operations.   

Between May 4 and 27, RAB has conducted 699 anti-drug operations across the country. As many as 23 alleged drug traders were killed, 723 people detained, drug worth Tk58 crore recovered and 3,147 drug dealers and appraisers were sentenced for different terms by mobile courts.

RAB Director General Benazir Ahmed said in different programs that they are conducting all-out drives against drugs, not against particular people. He said the drug dealers and addicts will be arrested, no matter how powerful they are and none will be spared.  

RAB legal and Media Wing Director Mufti Mahmud Khan said they had declared ‘war against drugs’. Operations in different districts, towns, and suburbs will continue until drug abuse is stamped out.

“We also have surveillance in areas where drugs enter. We are working to prevent yaba’s entry into the country,” he said. 

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