Rapid Action Battalion yesterday destroyed 370 litres of cocaine in liquid form, that were smuggled into Chattogram Port from Bolivia in guise of a consignment of sunflower oil in 2015.
Following a court order, officials of the elite force destroyed the contraband drug at a programme in Rab-7 headquarters in port city’s Patenga, in presence of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.
According to Rab, the destroyed cocaine was worth Tk 9,000 crore.
In the morning, the narcotic substance, which was found in two drums, was brought to the Rab headquarters in a truck. A trench was dug up on the premises and filled with coconut husks. Afterwards, the liquid was poured there and the trench was then backfilled.
“It is the biggest ever cocaine haul in the country,” said the minister at the event.
“This [the smuggling incident] was beyond of our imagination. Our security forces and customs officials were able to seize the consignment and found evidence of liquid cocaine,” he added.
The minister said, “Once the consignment was seized, we had to deal with numerous issues -- investigation at home and abroad, arresting the accused, submitting an accurate charge sheet, handling court stay order on trial proceedings and framing charges against perpetrators etc.”
Mentioning that most kingpins behind the smuggling were identified and brought to book, the minister said the accused will be punished through trial. He also lauded Rab for its role in the investigation.
Benazir Ahmed, director general of Rab, said, “We have identified both the rackets from home and abroad and charges will be filed against them soon.”
“Involvement of two Bangladeshi-origin UK citizens were found and we are trying to arrest them through Interpol. Except the duo, we have arrested all the accused,” he said.
On June 6, 2015, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate sealed a container carrying 2,140 kilogrammes of liquid cocaine in 107 drums -- that arrived in Chittagong Port via Singapore on May 13, 2015, from Montevideo, Uruguay after being imported from Bolivia.
The container was imported by one Khan Jahan Ali Limited, said investigators.
On June 27, 2015, following a laboratory test in Dhaka, existence of cocaine was found in two drums out of 107.
The following day, a sub-inspector of Bandar Police Station filed the case and detectives of Chittagong Metropolitan Police started investigation.
In December 2015, a Chittagong court directed Rab to probe the case. Nur Mohammad, chairman of Khan Jahan Ali Group, was arrested on January 15, 2016.
Nur secured ad-interim bail from the High Court, which was later stayed by the Supreme Court on June 20, 2016, following a government petition against the HC order.
Rab pressed charges on April 3, 2017, implicating Nur, his brother Mostaq Ahmed and eight others. On October 8 that year, following a petition from Khan Jahan Ali Group, the HC stayed the case’s trial.
However, following another government petition challenging the HC order, the apex court on October 31, 2017 ordered the lower court to resume the trial process and also asked Nur to surrender before the lower court in three weeks.
In April 2019, the court framed charges against the 10.
Investigators have also found link of Bangladeshi-origin UK citizens Bakul Mia and Fazlur Rahman in the drug smuggling.
At yesterday’s programme, Rab-7 Commanding Officer Md Mashiur Rahman; Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Home Affairs member Kujendra Lal Tripura; lawmakers MA Latif and Habibur Rahman; Chattogram Range’s Deputy Inspector General Khandokar Golam Faruq; CMP Commissioner Md Mahbubor Rahman; metropolitan magistrate Abu Salem Md Noman; and Department of Narcotics Control’s additional director Mujibor Rahaman Patwary (Chattogram division), among others were present.