CHITTAGONG: Influx of deadly drug Yaba continues unabated in the district amid constant vigilance by a number of law enforcement agencies.
According to sources, a total of 2,10,62,635 pieces of Yaba tablets were recovered in Chittagong in 2016. The recovery witnessed a rise by around one crore pieces as the number was 1,11,93,220 pieces in the previous year (2015).
The Yaba rackets comprising smugglers from home and abroad are frequently changing tactics and routes for transportation of the pills to dodge the eyes of law enforcers.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan MP at a meeting in the port city on Sunday last also termed it ‘a challenge to check influx of the drug’ and observed that policing activities alone are insufficient for combating the problem.
Sources in the agencies concerned said most of the consignments of the drug are being handed over at Poncha Khali point of Myanmar, Shitargola near Saint Martin’s Island in the sea and some points along several kilometres of the Naf river near Teknaf upazila in Cox’s Bazar.
On Sunday last, members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)-7 in Chittagong recovered the second largest consignment of 20 lakh pieces of Yaba tablet from the deep sea.
The elite crime busters also arrested nine drug peddlers, including consignment owner Md Mojahar - ringleader of the racket that controls the illegal trade in Anwara-Gohira coastal belt in Chittagong district.
The gang smuggled over 76 lakh pieces of Yaba in four phases since December last year, said RAB official quoting the arrestees.
The sources said the big caches of the deadly drug were recovered from the waterway in recent years.
The agencies working to check influx and spread of the drug in Chittagong include Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP), Chittagong district police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Department of Narcotic Control (DNC) and Bangladesh Coast Guard.
Of the agencies, CMP recovered highest 71,98,455 pieces of Yaba in 2016 while the RAB 68,42,532 pieces, Coast Guard 58,66,616 pieces, Chittagong district police 6,36,230 pieces, DNC Chittagong metro, district and intelligence unit together 5,18,802 pieces.
However, jurisdiction of Coast Guard includes Cox’s Bazar district while that of RAB include Cox’s Bazar, Feni and three hill districts of Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban.
RAB-7 Commanding Officer (CO) Lieutenant Colonel Miftah Uddin Ahmed told daily sun on Monday that the Home Ministry prepared a list of the Yaba traders and it was given to the agencies concerned.
Most of the criminals run the trade under the cover of normal business and create a stronghold in the society through different charity activities.
“We also had information about Mojahar since long. But, we could not arrest him due to lack of strong evidence. After the arrest of his cohort, we rounded him up,” said Miftah.
Collecting the consignments from the Poncha Khali, Shitargola points and several kilometre area of Naf river, the criminals mostly offload them coastal points of Teknaf, Kutubdia, Moheshkhali, Ukhia and Cox’s Bazar headquarters, Gohira in Anwara, Sitakunda, Sandwip and other coasts along Chittagong district and city, he said.
Due to strong vigilance in the sea, the criminals now opt for transporting the drug directly from the points to Barisal, Barguna, Patuakhali, Hatiya and other coastal areas of the country, said the RAB CO.
“They use the deep sea to stay out of the mobile networks to avert tracking. But, we have advanced technologies to trace them,” he said.
The smugglers collect two types of Yaba tablets known as ‘R7’ of good quality and high price and ‘Champa’ bearing mark ‘WY’ of lower quality and less price, he said.
The wholesale and retail prices of the deadly drug vary depending on customers and places. The lower quality Yaba is sold at a minimum price of Tk 30 per piece while a good quality one is sold at a minimum of Tk 200 per piece, said the RAB official.
The RAB CO put emphasis on launching of a massive crackdown against smugglers, peddlers and others involved in the illegal business to check the spread of the drug.
Restriction on fishing near the Poncha Khali, Shitargola in the sea and few kilometres of Naf river should be imposed to check influx of the drug, observed Miftah.
Chittagong District Superintendent of Police (SP) Nur-E-Alam Mina said they are also working on the list prepared by the Home Ministry.
“Many of the criminals have changed fate through the business. But, their identity would be put before all,” he said.
Department of Narcotic Control (DNC) Chittagong Intelligence unit Assistant Director Zillur Rahman underscored the need for setting up a separate special tribunal for trying the cases related to drugs to ensure speedy punishment to the criminals to stop spread of it.