It was all set. A flat was rented at Banashree and machineries were bought from Myanmar to set up a yaba factory in the capital.
But the plan failed as detectives busted Abdullah Jubayer, 28, and his three accomplices with the tools and 55,000 yaba pills in the capital's Khilgaon around 7:15pm on Sunday.
The four, including Ayub Ali, 45, Shamsul Alam, 28, and Mostakin Hossain alias Sunny, 32, were bringing the materials from Teknaf on Jubayer's SUV when they got arrested.
Yaba, the Thai word for "crazy medicine," is a mix of methamphetamine, better known as crystal meth, and caffeine that can leave users awake for days. Myanmar by far is considered the largest producer of the drug.
Law enforcers are yet to find a yaba factory in Bangladesh, said Jahangir Hossain Matubbar, deputy commissioner of Detective Branch of police, at a press briefing at Dhaka Metropolitan Police Media Centre in the capital yesterday.
Almost 80 percent of the drug is smuggled into the country through Myanmar-Teknaf-Cox's Bazar route, he said. The seized machine parts and pills too were collected from the neighbouring country.
Jubayer, who lives in Cox's Bazar, used to smuggle yaba tablets three to four times a month, each time around 50,000 pieces. He bought a pill at TK 130 to 180 to sell at Tk 300 to 500, added the DC.
The gang was trying to set up the factory in Bangladesh as they thought smuggling raw materials would be less risky and more profitable.
Asaduzzaman, DB's senior assistant commissioner, said Jubayer rented the flat through an accomplice. The flat owner was told that that a family would live there from September.
The accomplice, who has experience of producing yaba, was asked to look after the flat and gradually start the factory there.
"For a yaba factory, space of a residential flat that Jubayer rented is sufficient. Tools for such a factory more or less occupy space needed for a small oil or rice mill," said Asaduzzaman.
Jubayer got involved in yaba trafficking after high school exams in Darjeeling, India. Only high-society people can afford a SUV car like the one owned by Jubayer, added the official.
The seized vehicle bore a number plate reading "Dhaka Metro Ma-501".
SK Biswas, deputy director of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, told The Daily Star that the “Ma” series registration is only for goods vehicles. If any one uses the series for any jeeps or cars, s/he does it illegally.
The arrestees were placed on a seven-day remand each yesterday, as detectives launched a hunt for other members of the racket.