As law enforcers are looking into the properties of 102 yaba godfathers and dealers who have surrendered, their families and paid agents are trying to sell off the assets fearing those would be confiscated.
Police wrote to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) on March 3, requesting them to probe the wealth of the top dealers and their family members.
In the letter, ABM Masud Hossain, superintendent of police in Cox’s Bazar, said locals believed the godfathers became rich through yaba trade. So, the matter needs to be investigated.
Local sources said furniture, electronic appliances, and durables have already been removed from many mansions owned by the top dealers in the so-called yaba villages of Nazirpara and Moulvipara in Teknaf. The agents of the drug lords have also started selling off land at throw-away prices.
The villages are considered the gateway of the drugs.
There are over 100 such mansions in the upazila.
The Daily Star correspondents visited four of the mansions last month and saw no expensive furniture there. There were only one or two chairs, among other belongings, left in each of the houses.
No one was found inside. The gates were closed. One had to go through the gaps in the wall to go in, with the help of locals.
The locals said sofas, almirahs, refrigerators, beds as well as bathroom fittings had recently been removed.
The owners of the four mansions are Syed Hossain, Enamul Hoque, Didar Miah and Nurul Hoque Bhutto. The first three are in jail following surrender while the fourth is on the run.
On March 5, a Cox’s Bazar court ordered to confiscate Nurul’s properties.
The CID, while probing a money laundering case against Nurul and his brother Nur Mohammad, found evidence indicating their wealth was illegally amassed, said local police sources.
The case was filed with Teknaf Police Station in August, 2017, after investigators found evidence of huge financial transactions while probing a narcotics case filed in Narayanganj.
On February 16, the 102 top narcos surrendered to police in a ceremony at Teknaf Pilot School.
But in their absence, their agents took charge and have been running the illicit trade as usual.
Recently, most of them have gone into hiding in the face of law enforcers’ intensified drives, said police.
But villagers told these correspondents that locals fear the drug lords would return and restart their menace. Many have already left fearing this.
“Earlier, we used to sell goods worth Tk 10,000 on an average day. But now it does not even cross Tk 1,000,” said Shamsul Alam, a shopkeeper in Nazirpara area.
A few of the agents of the drug lords were trying to sell properties.
Around 4:00pm on March 27, this correspondent met Jahangir Alam, the agent of top narco Ziaur Rahman, at a tea-stall in the same area. Ziaur was killed in a “gunfight” with law enforcers in November last year.
Jahangir, who did not know the identities of the reporters, claimed that he used to live in Dubai and was now staying in his village home in Nazirpara. He further claimed that he was into “land business” and wanted to sell some plots for cheap.
Asked about the price, Jahangir said, “You can buy one acre near Nazirpara Road for only Tk 15 lakh.”
After he left, some locals revealed his identity and said the actual price was nearly Tk 40 lakh.
Officials at the land sub-registry office in Teknaf said they had received over a dozen applications, especially from Nazirapara area, seeking permission for selling land.
A top official from the Teknaf assistant commissioner (land) office said they were holding hearings on land sales as they were yet to receive any order to stop the sale.
“If the government wants to confiscate their properties, it needs a stay order on the sale citing ongoing investigation,” the official said wishing not to be named.
“Until we get the stay order, there is no legal bar on the sale.”
Asked, CID Special Superintendent Mollah Nazrul Islam, an investigator looking into the wealth of the top narcos, said, “The yaba dealers can sell their assets but action will be taken against the new owners if the properties are found to be illegal.”