Extorting money, trading arms right from jail
- A 3-minute call from jail costs Tk 100
- For using phone for whole night, Tk 5,000-7,000
- CTTC found gang activities by analysing phone communication
- Officially, inmates are only allowed to communicate for 10 minutes on phone per week
It costs Tk 100 to make a three-minute phone call from jail anytime. That's not all. For the right amount -- Tk 5,000 to 7,000 -- any inmate can use a smartphone inside their cell for the whole night.
An inmate, who came out of jail in mid-March of this year, disclosed the rates to The Daily Star. He was in prison in a fraud case for around six months.
Once a member of the illegal arms syndicate is arrested, his family members take over the trade. We are carrying out drives to arrest the absconding members of the syndicate.
According to the findings of police's intelligence agency, many criminals and arms dealers have been running their extortion activities and illicit business right from jail.
For instance, Md Idul, leader of "Idul gang", who is now in Kashimpur high-security jail, is managing his extortion activities from there with the help of his associates.
A police high official, who has been keeping an eye on criminal groups over a decade, said Idul has been maintaining his syndicate using some associates, two of whom were identified as Gaza Selim and Arif Hasan.
In the latest, Idul's associates have extorted around Tk 2 lakh from a cable operator in the capital's Tikatuli, the official told this correspondent.
From jail, Idul has been communicating using the phone number 01757599024.
In the app "Truecaller", the number showed the name "Eidul Vai", but it was found switched off when this correspondent tried to contact yesterday.
Another of Idul's associates, Saidul, used to extort makeshift shops around Rajdhani Super Market, according to police and local sources.
Talking to this newspaper, a local Jubo League leader of Motijheel area said Idul's associates also extort makeshift shops in Motijheel. "Besides, his men also used to collect money from different contractors in Motijheel."
Asked about it, Shah Iftekhar Ahmed, deputy commissioner of Wari Division police, suggested communicating with police if anyone becomes a victim of any type of extortion.
"Stern action will be taken if any complaint is found to be true. We have strict vigilance and monitoring of any criminal activity, and no extortion has been reported to police yet," he told The Daily Star.
Not only for extortion, arms dealers were also found doing illicit business from jail.
Illegal arms trader Ali Akbar Prokash, who was arrested by counter terrorism and transnational crime (CTTC) unit on October 31 last year, continued his trade from jail.
He along with three other arrestees were arrested by CTTC with five firearms and 301 bullets, including those for AK-47 assault rifles.
The arms enforcement team of CTTC has claimed that it had found his gang's activities while analysing some communication details of the illegal arms trade.
He was found using three phone numbers – 01608668491, 01919512089 and 01829859120.
Using these numbers, he communicated with his associates and one of his associates' relative on March 24, March 18 and March 12, said officials of the team.
This newspaper tried to contact, but the numbers were found switched off.
During the phone conversations, Ali Akbar mentioned "Dhanabi", the niece of illegal arms dealer Lal Tan Pankhoa in Rangamati.
Lal Tan, head of Saichal Pankhoa community in Rangamati, was also arrested with Akbar. Akbar asked his associates to collect something from Dhanabi, said an official of CTTC, quoting analysis details.
"We are now analysing the communication details and locating Akbar's other associates," said the official, requesting anonymity.
Akbar was mainly responsible for smuggling 9mm pistols and AK-47 rifles from a hill district and delivering those to one Hossain, the official said. Akbar has a network of around a dozen people, including a Rohingya from a Cox's Bazar camp, for running the illegal arms trade.
Ahamedul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of CTTC, said, "Once a member of the illegal arms syndicate is arrested, his family members take over the trade. We are carrying out drives to arrest the absconding members of the syndicate."
The Daily Star also tried to communicate with the inspector general of prisons, but he did not respond.
Asked about using phones, Abdul Jalil, senior jail superintendent of Kashimpur high-security jail, told this newspaper yesterday that there is no scope of using phones from jail. "We have strict vigilance."
About the police findings, Jalil suggested informing the jail authority if anyone has any specific information about this matter.
"We only allow inmates to communicate with their relatives for 10 minutes using mobile phones once in a week, as specified by the government, and our staff remain present during conversations," he added.c