Bangladesh is turning into one of main routes for smuggling cocaine, with direct involvement of some Bangladeshi nationals as members of international smuggling rings, according to law enforcing and intelligence agency officials.
Pointing to recent seizure of a huge quantity of cocaine in separate drives, the officials also said smuggling of this contraband drug through Bangladesh seemed to have intensified.
Excepting for the latest haul of 10 kilograms of cocaine at Bangladesh-India border on Friday, the largest consignment of cocaine, estimated to be around 120 kgs, was seized at the Chittagong port in the first half of the month of May. Several other consignment of cocaine was also seized at different times this year.
Earlier on September 1 this year, the CIID personnel seized 1.8kg of cocaine by arresting a 58-year-old national of Peru at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and on June 29 this year two persons were arrested with 1 kg cocaine at Ashulia and on January 24 last year Detective Branch (DB) of police arrested six persons with 6 pounds of cocaine at the capital's Nikunja area.
Besides, the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel seized 10 kilograms of high quality cocaine from a truck entering West Bengal from Bangladesh. The BSF members seized the cocaine at Petrapole, opposite to Bangladesh's Benapole check post, on Wednesday night. The truck driver identified as Suman Shil of North 24 Pargana district of West Bengal was also arrested for quizzing.
However, Moinul Khan, Director General of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID), said they were yet to make it sure whether cocaine was entering India from Bangladesh. The CIID boss also said officials at Benapole has been asked to carry on an enquiry on it.
Talking to the Daily Observer on Saturday, the CIID boss said, "Since the number of cocaine addicts is very few in Bangladesh, there is no market of such illicit drugs item in Bangladesh. The country is mainly used as one of the smuggling routes like India, Myanmar and Thailand."
On cocaine hauls at different times, the CIID Director General said, "Cocaine is smuggled out from some countries in South America and usually destined for some countries in North America and Western Europe like Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico and Peru."
He also mentioned of a consignment of 107 barrels of edible oil under the cover of 'Sunflower Oil' was anchored at the Chittagong port where intelligence officials found existence of liquid cocaine concealed in the containers. The consignment was brought from Uruguay via Singapore.
Asked, the CIID chief said the chemical test confirmed the existence of liquid cocaine, but the quantity of the liquid cocaine is estimated to around 160 kgs.
On another query, he said, "Although, the market value of the smuggled cocaine could not be fixed, it could be Tk 5- 50 crore considering time and places."
Officials at CIID, DB and police said the liquid cocaine seized at Chittagong port was bound for India while people from Bangladesh, India, United Kingdom and Bolivia were suspected to be involved in the smuggling under the cover of edible oil trade.