RAB said several passports were seized from them during the operation
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has arrested three members of a trafficking ring for their alleged involvement in smuggling 38 Bangladeshis to Vietnam.
In a raid in Dhaka's Paltan area on Wednesday evening, the elite force arrested the trio, including the ring leader.
The arrestees are Jamal Uddin alias Shohag, 34, Kamal Hossain, 39, and his brother Jamal Hossain, 37.
RAB-3 Commanding Officer (CO) Lt Col Rokibul Hasan confirmed the arrests at a press briefing and said 254 passports had been seized from the three persons during the operation.
Of the 38 Bangladeshis trafficked, 11 have returned to Bangladesh while 27 remain stranded in Vietnam.
Rokibul said that RAB started the investigation after talking to the 11 victims who had returned from Vietnam. Primary investigations revealed that local broker agencies, including Mash Carrier Services, The JK Overseas Ltd, Advent Overseas Ltd, Messrs Sandhani Overseas Ltd and Al Noman Human Resources Ltd, were involved in the trafficking..
RAB also found the name of Bangladeshi brokers in Vietnam, including Abdul Jabbar, Mostofa, Golam Azam Sumon and Md Atik, allegedly involved in the incident.
Describing the incident, Hasan also said that RAB, during primary interrogation, found that the accused had gone to Vietnam and met with the brokers there. The brokers in Vietnam told them that business entrepreneurs from Bangladesh had opportunities to work in Vietnam.
In view of this report, the agencies at home reached out to people willing to earn Tk40,000-Tk50,000 abroad. When some showed interest, this ring took Tk4,00,000 per person to make passports and visas for them, he said.
Brokers in Vietnam sent offer letters to the broker agencies in Bangladesh after receiving passport-related information. Visas were collected from the Vietnam Embassy through using offer letters. In order to attract foreign investment, the Vietnamese government usually issues business (Doanh Nghiep-DN) visas to investors for a short period of time (up to a maximum of 1 year), he further said.
The RAB-3 CO said one had to carry cash to enter Vietnam on a DN visa. As such, the above-named organizations had forced each immigrant to take $2,000. BMET cards were then issued to persons wishing to travel through Bangladeshi brokers.
After arriving in Vietnam, these ordinary people were received at the airport by Vietnamese brokers; their passports were confiscated and locked away in a room. Later, they were kidnapped and the brokers demanded money from their families, he added.
It is to be noted that Md Nazmul Hasan, 26, a resident of Comilla, fell ill in mid-March and died on April 3 without receiving any treatment. Nazmul's relatives contacted local brokers and The JK Overseas Limited, but did not receive any cooperation from them.
Later, funeral services for Md Nazmul Hasan were carried out on June 26 in the Muslim colony of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, he further added.
Rokibul said that The JK Overseas Limited sent 14 Bangladeshis to Vietnam on DN visas in November 2019. None of them have had any job opportunities, so far. As a result, all these workers were living a dehumanized existence.
Meanwhile, Mash Carrier Service, another brokering agency, which does not have its own recruiting licence, has long been sending migrants to Vietnam by using local broker agencies and using licences from other agencies, he said.
Legal action would be taken against them, the CO said.
Earlier, the 27 Bangladeshi nationals, who were recently lured by human traffickers into travelling to Vietnam, are now temporarily staying at a hotel provided by the Vietnamese government.
On July 2, 11 Bangladeshi nationals returned from Vietnam on a special Hanoi-Dhaka-Hanoi flight jointly organized by the Bangladesh embassy in Hanoi and the Vietnamese government.
These 27 people were also listed for repatriation, but they refused to avail the flight, arguing that the Bangladesh government had to pay the airfare.
However, the Bangladesh government does not have a provision to pay airfares for returning illegal workers. Moreover, due to flight restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it will take time for flights to resume on the Dhaka-Hanoi route.