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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh on alert: How two massive cocaine shipments penetrated borders

  • Two Africans arrested this month 
  • DNC investigating international ring
Update : 30 Jan 2024, 10:38 PM

The Department of Narcotics Control recently seized 8.3 kilograms of cocaine, the largest consignment in Bangladesh’s history, from Dhaka airport, sparking concerns about the powerfully addictive stimulant drug.

Previously, two large shipments of cocaine entered Bangladesh through two Africans in a span of five months last year. Their destination was a neighbouring country across the border.

The drug smugglers, Kelvin Yengi, a Cameroonian, and Nomthandazo Toera Soko, a Malawian, entered Bangladesh with on-arrival visas on the instructions of one Jacob Frankie, who is currently in Nigeria.

Sources familiar with the matter said that other than these two, many others might have come to Bangladesh as couriers of the drug, and other international gangs could be using Bangladesh as a smuggling route besides Frankie.

Kelvin Yengi, 42, entered Bangladesh via Doha, Qatar, on August 27. After completing his delivery, he left Bangladesh on September 4.

Nomthandazo Toera Soko, 35, came to Bangladesh on September 15, leaving the country after a week's stay. Soko works as a nurse at a hospital in Malawi. By taking leave from work, she would transport drugs for a large sum. Her husband works in the engineering department of the Malawi Army.

Meanwhile, the authorities have found no information about the previous entry of another member of the gang, Mohammadi Ali Mohammad, a citizen of Tanzania, whom the police arrested for possession of cocaine.

Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) chief Mustakim Billah Farooqui told reporters that the agency was investigating the ring, adding that the head of the gang in Bangladesh was Don Frankie.

Although he left Bangladesh nine months ago, he has been coordinating the drug trade from Nigeria, according to the DNC director general.

Sources involved in the case investigation said Jacob Frankie, alias Don Frankie, one of the leaders of the international drug smuggling ring, had stayed in Bangladesh for a long time, overseeing the whole matter. An accomplice in this work, in the guise of being involved in a garment business, was his brother Wisi, they added.

Frankie returned to Nigeria nine months ago after handing over full responsibility to Wisi and has expanded his smuggling business from there.

Thanks to the gang having people on the Bangladesh border and across the border, immediately after the seizure of one cocaine shipment, Wisi managed to cross the border and go to a neighbouring country, according to sources.

Asaduzzaman, a Bangladeshi and the manager of Frankie's office in Dhaka’s Baridhara, handled the repackaging of cocaine and security in the guise of his garment business. He was responsible for looking after those who entered the country. Asaduzzaman Apple would contact fellow Bangladeshi Saiful Islam Roni, who has been arrested, to collect fake invitation letters for cocaine couriers under the name of a non-existent company, as stated by those familiar with the investigation.

DNC officials said Roni was the director of an agro-machinery company and was in the garment business.

Roni had been closely associated with Frankie for the past two years, they said, adding that he would oversee the necessary invitations, hotel reservations, and visa processing for drug couriers. Roni would make fake invitation letters from a non-existent company called Maspex Ltd and send them to Frankie, DNC sources said.

They added that Frankie had many other collaborators, and the investigating officers were making inquiries about them.

DNC Inspector Dewan Md Zillur Rahman said the agency was verifying information it had received about those involved in the trafficking of this drug.

A remand application had been made for Soko for 10 days and seven days for the rest, he added.

Soko was arrested at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka with 8.3kgs of cocaine on January 24. The next day, during a raid at a hotel in Dhaka, an APBn dog detected drugs in the possession of Tanzanian citizen Mohammadi Ali Mohammad. He was arrested with 200 grams of cocaine in his possession.

Later, the DNC arrested five more people for their involvement in these incidents.

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