Arrests come amid growing reports of human trafficking with promise of lucrative jobs abroad
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) members claim to have arrested seven members of a gang that trafficked people from Madaripur, Gopalganj and Dhaka to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.
The arrestees are Md Mizanur Rahman, 43, Poli Akter, 43, Helena Begum, 42, Md Azizul Haque, 35, Nazmul Huda, 31, Md Ashiq, 25, and Sima Akter, 23.
The arrests were made from Madaripur and Gopalganj, and Dhaka’s Keraniganj and Jatrabari areas in a joint operation by the Intelligence Wing of the RAB Headquarters and RAB-8, conducted from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
RAB also seized 17 passports, 14 cheque books and 15 deposit books of different banks, two ATM cards, two account documents, two NIDs, 10 mobile phones and Tk56,670 in cash from their possessions.
Disclosing the matter to the media on Sunday, RAB Director (Legal and Media Wing) Commander Khandaker Al Moin said: “Many Bangladeshis are cheated when they try to go to Europe illegally with this gang’s help.”
The seven arrested are close associates and family members of the ring leader, Rubel, who is currently in Dubai, he added.
RAB’s drives come amid growing reports of incidents of human trafficking with the promise of lucrative jobs abroad.
Md Ashiq alias Euro Ashiq is the coordinator of the “Rubel syndicate” in Bangladesh.
“The ring has been involved in this crime for quite some time. They lure people by promising overseas employment and cheap travel costs, and have been trafficking people to Europe by coordinating with other international gangs,” said RAB Director Moin.
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“The gang charges around Tk8 lakh to take a person to Europe, of which more than half is taken before reaching Libya and the rest afterwards, from the relatives of the illegal migrants,” he added.
Quoting the arrested individuals, RAB in a press release said: “Rubel established connections with international human trafficking rings while he was in Libya between 2012 and 2018. He currently operates the syndicate from Dubai. Many complaints have been filed against him with the Embassy of Bangladesh in Libya over human trafficking.”
Libya has long been used as a transit point for migration to Europe.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees data show that 11,000 migrants from different countries made their way to Libya illegally through the Mediterranean from January to April this year.
More than 700 migrants died between January and May 21 while attempting to cross the sea, while 1,400 died while trying to do so last year.
As many as 439 migrants, including 164 Bangladeshis, were rescued and detained by the Libyan Coast Guard from the Mediterranean Sea on June 10 while they were on their way to Europe.
On May 18, the Tunisian navy rescued 68 Bangladeshis after a boat carrying them capsized in the sea. Thirteen Bangladeshis were reported missing. They were on their way to the Italian shores from Libya when the boat capsized.