Masterminds behind the rampant gold smuggling into the country are getting off scot-free though many of their sidekicks are arrested along with a huge quantity of the precious metal.
Gold smuggling is continuing unabated under the patronisation of a powerful syndicate. The smugglers are using new tricks to evade law enforcers and customes officials, sources said.The precious metal is being smuggled through different land ports. The ports are being used as transit points with the help of some syndicates, sources said.
Law enforcers, sometimes, round up the carriers of illegal gold, but the masterminds remain out of reach. Gold smuggling has increased through border and land routes alongside airports.
Sources said a major portion of the gold is being smuggled into India through Benapole, Sonamasjid, Akhaura, Hili and Bhomra ports.
Officials concerned and law enforcers said gold smuggling has increased recently. Gold smuggling continues unabated in connivance with some dishonest airport and land port officials, sources said.
The customs department often recover smuggled gold and arrest some people but the real smugglers always get off scot-free.
On August 10, members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) arrested a man along with 72kg of gold from Shikarpur border point in Sharsha upazila of Jessore.“On a tip-off, a BGB team led by Habildar Mukul Hossain conducted a raid on Narkelbaria village and detained a gold smuggler named Mohiuddin along with 624 gold bars, weighing over 72.75 kg and a machete,” said Lt Col Ariful Hoque, commanding officer of 49 BGB Battalion.
He said it was the biggest gold smuggling attempt in Benapole border area. The value of the seized gold was estimated at around Tk 36 crore.
The BGB official said “Mohiuddin, son of Tozammel Hossain of Shikpur village in Sharsha upazila, is also known as a notorious gold smuggler in his area. He and his two accomplices tried to smuggle those gold to India.”
But due to BGB’s strict surveillance, the smugglers did not succeed in the smuggling. BGB will have more surveillance in the area in future, he added.
On the same day, in another raid at Shikri, a BGB team led by Havildar Mozammel Hossain of Benapole BGB company headquarters, detained Safura and Israfil along with 11 gold bars, weighing 2kg.
“The gold bars were being smuggled into India,” BGB officials said.
Investigation officials said smuggled gold reach the destinations by changing 8 to 10 hands. As a result, most of the carriers do not know the details of the gold except a little information about the person who has contracted him and to whom he is to be reached.
On August 8, the Customs preventive team arrested a citizen of India along with 22 gold bars, weighing 12.30 kg, at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. The arrestee is Arshad Ayaz, 46, from Kolkata in Bengal of India.
Police took Arshad Ayaz on remand in connection with the gold recovery.
Noor-e-Azam, officer-in-charge of Airport police station, said, “Arshad cannot speak either Bangla or English. Maybe he is using a tactic to avoid interrogation. He is speaking only in Hindi.”
Initially, he said he was travelling to India with that gold and used Bangladesh as a transit. If he was not arrested, he would go to India on that day. He had a ticket booked on his name that day.
It is alleged that a number of employees of Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) responsible for airport security are involved in illegal foreign currency business and gold smuggling. Some of them were arrested on different occasions but later released due to pressure from the CAAB union.
These CAAB employees - mostly cleaners, conveyer belt operators and security guards - are known as carriers in the smuggling racket. They have links with high officials for smuggling of contraband items, sources at the airport said.
On July 29, a preventive team of Dhaka Customs House detained three people at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, including a CAAB staff in connection with the recovery of 57 gold bars worth around Tk 3.32 crore from the mosque of the airport.
The arrestees are CAAB Cleaning Shift in-charge Md Jamal Uddin Patwari and two passengers – Ekramul Hoque and Jahidul Hoque Salman Bhuiyan.
After being handed over to the airport police station, police took them on remand. During the remand, they claimed to be the carrier of the gold. The investigation of the case was handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police.