Sixty-year old Jahir Ahmed owns a pharmaceutical store and a Cost and Freight (C&F) agency in Teknaf, but has been living in upscale neighbourhoods of Dhaka for the last few years.
Rapid Action Batallion (Rab-2) arrested Jahir on Wednesday along with five others from an apartment on Elephant Road, with 2.07 lakh yaba pills -- worth around Tk 7.24 crore – and Tk 16.64 lakh cash.
The five others arrestees were identified as Foysal Ahmed, 31, a senior officer of a private bank; Miraz Uddin Nishan, 21, a student at a private university; Towfiqul Islam, 21, a college student from Dhaka; Sanjay Chandra Halder, 20, a high school graduate from Madaripur and Mominul Islam, 30, a close associate of Jahir, said the elite force.
The whole family of Jahir, popularly known as Moulovi Jahir, is operating the yaba business in the guise of medicine and C&F businesses for the last 10 to 15 years, said Mufti Mahmud Khan, director of legal and media wing of Rab, while addressing a briefing at its media centre yesterday.
Jahir had been maintaining the supply and distribution of the narcotics from Dhaka, with family members' assistance from Teknaf, said Rab. He even managed to slip under the radar of the recent countrywide anti-drug crackdown.
He was leading the smuggling business through 30 close associates, including his wife Rajia Begum, daughter Sabiha Akter, son Jahirul Islam Babu, son-in-law Abdul Amin and his brother Nurul Amin.
Mahmud said Jahir and his son Babu, 28, were running the yaba business from rented apartments in posh areas for the last five to six years.
Babu was arrested by Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) on April 25 from the capital's Dhanmondi and is now in jail, he said, adding that they had been spending around Tk 1,00,000 monthly to rent apartments to evade law enforcers.
Jahir's wife, who is now on the run, used to control the business in Teknaf, and his daughter, son-in-law Amin and his brother Nurul provided support, he said.
Abdul Amin and Nurul Amin are home ministry-listed narcotic traders, said Rab. The family members are now in hiding after the arrest of Jahir.
The other associates include drivers working in transport sectors and their assistants, two courier service employees and some retail yaba traders, according to Rab.
Mufti Mahmud said the syndicate got the supply of yaba from a Myanmarese agent, named Alam alias Barmiya Alam. “We are verifying the identity of Alam, who is a permanent resident of Myanmar's Maungdaw and also has a house in Teknaf,” he said.
Alam smuggled the yaba tablets to Najirpara and Jaliapara of Teknaf through river routes from Maungdaw, and stocked them in different houses in Teknaf, which were later smuggled by Jahir's syndicate, said Rab.
The syndicate members used to move the tablets to Dhaka using different transport services and courier companies. They hid the yaba tablets inside fans, washing machines, air conditioners and then brought them to Dhaka by a courier company, said the elite force.
The latest 2.07 lakh yaba tablets were brought to Dhaka inside an AC and a fan.
Based on information, Rab-2 first arrested Foysal, Miraz, Towfiqul and Sanjay with 35 thousand yaba tablets from a flat of Elephant Road, said Rab.
Getting information from the arrestees, the elite force arrested Jahir and Mominul with 67 thousands more yaba tablets and Tk 6.64 lakh. Finally, the elite force conducted drive in another flat on Elephant Road and recovered 1.05 lakh yaba tablets and Tk 10 lakh, said Rab.
During interrogation, Foysal, Miraz, Towfiqul, and Sanjay told the elite force that they previously knew each other and were drug addicts, but engaged in drug smuggling business later.
Mufti Mahmud said they are hopeful of getting information on the business from the arrestees, and arresting other members of the syndicate.
A case was filed with New Market Police Station, and Rab has also submitted prayer to investigate the case, according to officials of Rab-2.