Illegal drug peddling is increasing day by day. Due to Bangladesh's geographical position, international drug smugglers are using the country as a "transit route."
Besides land ports and border areas, drug traders are also smuggling drugs through international airports.
However, none of the three existing international airports in Bangladesh have drug detection devices. They also have a shortage of manpower.
The Department of Narcotics Control has said initiatives have been taken to install drug detecting devices, as well as increasing manpower at the international airports.
According to Civil Aviation sources, of the eight active airports in the country, only three airports- Hazrat Shahjalal Airport in Dhaka, Shah Amanat Aiport in Chattogram, and Osmani International Airport in Sylhet- are international airports.
Modern instruments are being installed in Dhaka to reinforce security. Dual-View X-ray security scanning machine, Liquid Explosive Detection System (LEDS), Under Vehicle Scanning System (UVSS), Fap Barrier gate with card reader, barrier gate with RFID card reader, Explosive Detection System (EDS) and Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) machines have been installed.
Airport sources have said that even though some of those devices are capable of scanning for metal and explosive devices, they cannot detect drugs.
With these machines, only alcohol bottles and beer cans can be identified.
Sources said there is a demand for drugs such as Yaba, Phensidyl, Marijuana, Alcohol, and Heroin in the local markets.
Among these, even though alcohol is brought legally, other drugs are being smuggled across land and sea ports, and also border areas. Airports are also being used.
Cocaine, opium, heroin, tranquilizers, homeopathic medicine and sheesha are being smuggled through airports due to their portability.
On the other hand, Yaba tablets are being smuggled out of Bangladesh to other countries. Due to their small size, hundreds of Yaba tablets can be carried hidden on the body or in bags.
They often escape detection by devices that can only detect metals and explosive materials.
An airport official said that at airports, security is given the greatest emphasis. Gold smuggling comes next.
According to the official, the shapes of products inside the passengers' bags can be identified with the help of X-ray scanning machines and Dual-View scanning machines. As a result, alcohol and beer can be easily detected by the shapes of their containers.
However, other drugs are not put in specific containers. As a result of which they most drugs often go undetected, the airport official said.
Only a few smugglers get caught if detective agencies are tipped beforehand. To identify drugs properly, modern instruments need to be set up at airports.
While speaking on this topic, Director General of Department of Narcotics Control, Md Jamal Uddin, said: "We have taken the initiative to install modern instruments to detect drugs at airports. Other than that, we also want to use modern instruments at land ports.
"If that happens, drug detection activities will gain momentum," said Jamal.
About the lack of manpower, Jamal Uddin said: "There is a shortage of manpower all over the country, not only at airports. We have forwarded a proposal to the government to increase logistics. If it gets approved, our activities will become full-fledged."
This article was first published on banglatribune.com