Charges are being filed against the importer
Customs authorities on Tuesday claimed to have seized 42 tons of poppy seeds worth Tk15 crore at Chittagong Port.
Officials said that the poppy seeds were imported from Malaysia by a trader based in Old Dhaka – Ajmin Trade Center – in the garb of mustard seeds.
The seizure was made on a tip-off.
On April 18, Ajmin Trade Center's clearing agent Hotline Cargo International submitted a bill of entry to the Chittagong Customs Department to unload the consignment of two containers and paid Tk142,497 as duty for mustard seed imports.
Acting on a tip-off, the Audit, Investigation, and Research (AIR) team of the customs house suspended the release process and conducted a physical examination of the consignment.
Upon physical examination, 12 tons of mustard seeds and 42 tons of poppy seeds were found in place of the 54 tons of mustard seeds declared by the importer.
Mustard seeds were found in sacks kept near the door of the container, while sacks containing poppy seeds were kept in the rear side.
Customs House’s Assistant Commissioner Rejaul Karim, said: “Samples taken from the seized poppy seeds were subsequently sent to the Narcotics Control Department in Dhaka for chemical testing.”
“The government agency certified that these are indeed poppy seeds,” the official added.
According to the international market price, the value of the seized 42 tons of poppy seeds is around Tk15 crore.
However, the importer has paid Tk22 lakh through the letter of credit for the import of mustard seeds, and thus may have violated the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The Bangladesh government has banned the import of poppy seeds as they are used to make various drugs, including opium.
Chittagong Customs House is preparing to file a case accusing the importer.
The Anti-Money Laundering Unit of the department is also looking into possible violations of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.