“Yaba Don Saiful Karim landed in Dhaka around 11pm on Saturday”
Top yaba smuggler Saiful Karim — mostly known by his initials “SK” among yaba smugglers and dealers across the country — is apparently ready to surrender to police, according to a source in the law enforcement agency.
The “Yaba Don” may have been on the run since May last year, after the government kicked off its crackdown on drug smugglers and dealers, but he has eluded the police for around two decades since joining drug dealing .
Saiful was among the top yaba godfathers, alongside former Awami League MP Abdur Rahman Badi, in the list of 1,151 drug smugglers and dealers that was prepared by the Home Ministry last year.
Badi also did not surrender which drew criticism from different quarters aimed at the government.
Sources said the man, who is from Teknaf’s Shilbuniapara, has been willingly in police custody since Saturday night, upon returning home from Dubai on a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight.
“Yaba Don Saiful Karim landed in Dhaka around 11pm on Saturday,” said the source. “Law enforcement engaged in the surrender program took him into custody from there soon after.”
“Saiful was handed over to Cox’s Bazar police on Sunday morning. He is currently being held at the Cox’s Bazar Police Lines. He will surrender alongside other yaba smugglers and dealers at another surrender program after the upcoming Eid,” according to the source.
On February 16, 102 yaba smugglers and dealers surrendered to police in the first phase at an event in Cox’s Bazar. Saiful was supposed to surrender at that time, but he did not show.
The district’s Additional Superintendent of Police, Md Iqbal Hossain, said they have no information about Saiful being in their custody and his decision to surrender.
A family affair
On paper, according to law enforcement sources, Saiful Karim is a clearing and forwarding (C&F) agent and trader. He has a wood importing agency named SK International, which he reportedly uses as a front to run his real operation — smuggling yaba from Myanmar.
Sources said he has multiple ships that are used to smuggle in hundreds of thousands of yaba pills from 38 Myanmar-based factories to Bangladesh every day, for the market he created.
In 1998, he became close to a Myanmar-based yaba don named Moga Suibin, a most wanted drug dealer who was based out of the neighbouring country’s Maungdaw township, which is also Saiful’s paternal hometown.
About two years later, Saiful established SK International with funding from Moga. In 2001, he started smuggling in yaba from Myanmar under cover of his importing agency.
Reportedly, Saiful and his family currently own assets worth millions of takas, which include cash money, multiple ships, luxury apartments, and hotels.
Saiful Karim’s brother-in-law Saiful Islam and uncle, Md Ibrahim, who is from Maungdaw and the current backbone of his drug operation, are also involved in the yaba syndicate, said sources.
Nearly every report from every intelligence agency has the names of Saiful and his family members. His five brothers are also reportedly involved in yaba dealing.
But there were no narcotics cases against Saiful before 2017. Several cases were filed against him after 2017. The Anti-Corruption Commission too, filed a case against Saiful last month.
His younger brothers, Mahbub and Rashed, were also arrested on May 3 with 10,000 yaba pills and four firearms, in a police raid on their home in Teknaf. Prior to that, Saiful’s older brother Munna, was arrested by the Detective Branch of police last year.
However, police never managed to nab Saiful on narcotics charges.