The Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has discovered intricate details of a gold smuggling racket and the syndicate behind it, following the arrest of three suspected smugglers on Tuesday.
The suspects — Faruk Ahmed, Mir Hossain and Shaheen — were arrested from the airport area in Dhaka in possession of 80 gold bars weighing 9kg. Police also seized their car.
During the initial interrogation, Faruk told the police that he and his two brothers - Masud Karim Rana and Rahmat Bari - were part of a gold smuggling syndicate that had been operating in Bangladesh for the past three years.
“This racket has been involved in gold smuggling for years, but this is the first time their members have been arrested,” DMP Police Deputy Commissioner (North) Sheikh Nazmul Hossain told the Bangla Tribune.
“We have learned that the syndicate has many other members, and we are trying to track them down.”
Faruk Ahmed, one of the key syndicate members, told the police that his brother, Masud Karim, maintains communication with international gold smuggling rackets in cities such as Dubai, Jeddah and Kuala Lumpur.
When a deal is reached, members of the international syndicate deliver the gold bars to their Bangladeshi counterparts at the airport.
A cabin crew member who is also part of the syndicate, hides the gold bars under a seat. After the flight lands at Dhaka airport, the crew member relays the seat number to a catering or cleaning service employee who is also in league with the syndicate.
The employee then smuggles the gold out on their catering service or cleaning truck through Hanger No 8.
A high-level member of the syndicate then takes delivery of the smuggled gold and leaves the airport, bypassing customs and the security personnel.
Quoting the arrested suspects, DB police sources said the trio smuggled in 60 bars of gold on October 21, and another 45 on October 22.
This trio used to smuggle gold bars into the country two to three times a week, from Dubai and also from Muscat, Jeddah and Kuala Lumpur.
Suspected members of the gold smuggling syndicate
Quoting Faruk, DB Police sources said: “Employees and air hostesses of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Regent Air and a few other airlines are involved with this syndicate.”
The sources said some of the suspects had been identified: Murad, Makin and Azad of Bangladesh Biman; Mishu of Regent Airlines; and two businessmen in Dhaka named Lalshyam and Bijoy.
Faruk also revealed to police that he and his brothers hail from Comilla, and they had rented an apartment on Road 29 of Bashundhara Residential Area in Dhaka.
DB Police Airport Zonal Team Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Muharram Ali told the Bangla Tribune: “We are trying to identify other members of the syndicate. Surveillance has been increased in the airport (and) we will arrest these culprits as soon as they are identified.”
DB Police sources said the smugglers are using mobile applications capable of encrypted communication, in a similar manner to militants. Three mobile phones which were seized from the arrested suspects had no call records.
The suspects confessed to using an application, WeChat, to bypass any surveillance by law enforcement agencies.
Allegations against employees of Bangladesh Biman & Regent Airways
Several police officials involved in anti-smuggling operations told the Bangla Tribune that gold smuggling syndicates are comprised of criminals who recruit employees of the airport and different airlines.
They said there were allegations that some employees of Biman Bangladesh and Regent Airways are involved in smuggling.
“Many airline employees, from air hostesses to the ground handling crew, are involved in smuggling. Regent Air is the preferred airlines of the smugglers,” a DB official said on condition of anonymity.
DB Police Sub-Inspector Nur Alam Siddique filed a case against the three arrested suspects at Airport police station last Thursday. The court granted the police a two-day remand of the trio on the same day.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune