The sale of illicit arms brought in from a neighbouring country has been an ongoing activity paying huge dividends to those involved in arms smuggling for decades. What is new here is that law enforcers have detected the involvement of a section of legal arms dealers’ involvement in the racket, which makes enforcement much more difficult. Indeed, we are informed by the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) police unit that these syndicates have brought in some 200 firearms in the last two years and sold in the grey market after barcodes were removed to make these untraceable.
Regardless of the protestations by the Legal Arms Dealers’ Association, CTTC officials have stated that they believe a section of dealers are under the radar and some have been arrested. The implications of sale of small arms to criminals and political goons using the cover of legal arms sales is not lost on anyone. Not only is it a threat to maintaining law and order, but the easy availability of lethal firearms gives rise to crimes like murder and terrorism. The other point to remember is that those involved in the narcotics trade are heavily dependent on procuring these illegal arms to settle scores and if transnational gangs continue to use 10 border points to bring in firearms into Bangladesh, we can expect to see growing violence where criminals will be as well armed as law enforcers.
At a time when the country is experiencing relative peace, policymakers and law enforcers must collaborate with their counterparts across international borders to put a stop to this dangerous trade. Simultaneously, the cases and charge sheets submitted against apprehended suspects must be thoroughly investigated and convictions made at the earliest. The authorities must display a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal arms as it has the potential for serious consequences.