Lane-1 of Wari's Lalmohon Saha Street is just five feet wide.
In the middle of the lane, there is a corridor through which even two people would not be able to pass together. Around 12 to 15 steps into the corridor, one would find the main entrance to a six-storey building. On the ground floor, there is a 400sqft flat with three rooms.
From the small flat, Rapid Action Battalion yesterday recovered Tk 26.55 crore in cash and fixed deposit receipts worth Tk 5.15 crore.
They also recovered around one kilogramme of gold, 9,300 USD, 174 Malaysian ringgit, 5,350 Indian rupees, 1,195 Chinese yen, 11,560 Thai baht, 100 UAE dirhams and some gambling chips from the same flat.
After recovering the money, a Rab high official said, "It was nothing less than a bank of their own."
Rab made the recovery in a 12-hour special drive that began around 12:30am, said Lt Col Rakibul Hasan, director of Rab-3, while addressing a spot briefing.
The entire six-storey building is owned by Enamul Haque Enu, former vice-president of Gendaria unit of Awami League, and Rupon Bhuiyan, the unit's joint general secretary, who are now known as "the casino brothers" for their involvement in the illegal casino business.
Both the brothers are now in jail after being arrested on January 13.
Rab officials said they are primarily suspecting that the money was collected from their illegal casino business. Enu and Rupon were the directors of a casino at the Wanderer's Club in Motijheel.
Earlier on September 24, Rab conducted a drive in another house owned by the brothers in the capital's Gendaria and arrested one of their staffers. Later, the elite force also conducted a drive in one of their friend's house and recovered Tk five crore in cash, eight kgs of gold and six firearms.
The duo went into hiding after law enforcers launched the crackdown on illegal casinos, bars, and spas last year. But they were finally arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department of police on January 13 this year at a flat in Keraniganj, where they had been living after failing to flee the country with forged passports.
A total of seven cases have been filed against Enu and Rupon and the CID is investigating four. Law enforcers interrogated the brothers several times after taking them on remand.
Speaking to this correspondent, a grocery shop owner in Old Dhaka said they never heard anything wrong about the brothers until the law enforcers' drive. They always behaved well in the locality, he said, requesting anonymity.
INSIDE THE TINY FLAT
Rab entered the flat after breaking down the main door.
Upon entrance, they walked into a small space with a kitchen and a bathroom. The rusty gas burner there indicated it was unused for a long period.
Inside the flat yesterday morning, this correspondent also found two beds in two small rooms, two three-seater steel sofas, a chair, two old model televisions and an air-conditioner.
But most of the space was taken up by five big steel vaults, from which the elite force recovered the huge sums of money.
At one stage during the drive, Rab had to bring two cash-counting machines to get an idea of the amount of money recovered from the vaults, according to officials.
Sarwar Alam, executive magistrate of Rab, who was present during the special drive, told The Daily Star that they were not able to arrest anyone during the drive as no one was found inside the flat.
However, they suspect that someone used to guard this money, he said.
Sarwar said Enu and Rupon did not live in the building. They have tenants on the third and fourth floors of the house, he said, adding they did not find anything after conducting drives in the other flats of the building.
As there was a huge sum of money, someone might have been living in the flat but left after the brothers were arrested, added Alam.
Locals said a family member (sister-in-law) of the duo lived in the building and was working as a caretaker of the building and property after the brothers were arrested.
Locals and law enforcers, however, did not give details about the brothers' family.
A resident of the building said she always found the flat locked. "Sometimes, I heard sounds inside the flat but no activities had come to my notice in the last couple of months."
AN INTELLIGENCE-LED DRIVE
The Rab-3 director Lt Col Hasan said they had earlier recovered money and gold from three houses of Enu and Rupon in Banianagar and Narinda in Old Dhaka and kept the houses under surveillance.
Their surveillance led them to this flat, he said.
A Rab high official said they got information that the brothers owned 24 buildings in the densely populated Old Dhaka. Acting on the tip-off, they traced the building and flat, he said, requesting anonymity.
The official further said they broke the main door and entered the flat suspecting they would find some property-related documents but were surprised to find such a huge stash of money and gold.
They also conducted a drive in another building, which is also located on the lane but did not find anything there, added the official.
SOURCE OF THE MONEY
Asked, Lt Col Hasan said further investigation was needed to know when the brothers amassed so much money.
"We will file a case and hand over the recovered money and gold to police," said the Rab director.
Speaking to The Daily Star, another top official of the elite force said this house is very close to Motijheel, where the brothers used to run their illegal casino.
"We are suspecting they kept the money in the vaults inside the flat after collecting it from the casinos. They used the money to buy buildings…" the official said, requesting anonymity.
As the brothers and the family members went into hiding after the casino drives began, they did not get the chance to move the money from the flat, said the official.