Police recovered around 100,000 yaba pills, worth approximately Tk1.3crore, from the spot
Top yaba smuggler Saiful Karim—mostly known by initials “SK” among his associates—has been killed in a reported gunfight with police in Teknaf upazila of Cox’s Bazar.
The incident occurred near the banks of the Naf river, along the boundary wall of Teknaf’s land port, around 3:30am on Friday.
The three police personnel injured in the incident are: Sub-Inspector (SI) Russel Ahmed, 35, Constable Imam Hossain, 30, and Constable Md Solaiman, 36.
Meanwhile, police recovered: nine firearms, 43 bullets, 33 shell casings, and 100,000 yaba pills—worth approximately Tk1.3crore—from the spot.
Saiful was listed, alongside former Awami League MP Abdur Rahman Badi, on the list of 1,151 drug smugglers and dealers that was prepared by the Home Ministry last year.
Confirming the matter to Dhaka Tribune, Teknaf police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Pradip Kumar Das said: “The yaba kingpin was arrested by police on charges of arms and drugs.
“After thorough interrogation, he finally confessed that a large consignment of yaba pills were dispatched from Myanmar near the Teknaf Sadar land port area a few days ago.”
He said police conducted a drive in the area, taking Saiful along with them, based on his information. However, when the law enforcement agency members reached the spot, Saiful’s associate drug traders—lurking there—opened fired at them, leaving three members of the police injured.
Police fired back at them in self-defence, triggering the gunfight. At one point, Saiful was injured by a bullet, but the rest of the yaba smugglers managed to escape, the OC added.
Critically injured, Saiful was taken to Teknaf Upazila Health Complex but the on-duty doctors referred him to Cox’s Bazaar Sadar Hospital for better treatment. However, the on-duty doctor at the hospital declared him dead on arrival.
OC Pradip said: “Saiful had seven cases filed against him at the Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar, and Chittagong police stations. However, three cases will be lodged with Teknaf police station regarding this incident.
“Meanwhile, preparations are underway to hand his body over to his family.”
On Wednesday, before the "gunfight", sources said Saiful, who is from Teknaf’s Shilbuniapara, had turned himself in to the police on May 25, upon returning home from Dubai on a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight.
The source added that Saiful was handed over to Cox’s Bazar police on Sunday morning, was held at the Cox’s Bazar Police Lines, and was due to surrender—alongside other yaba smugglers and dealers—at another surrender program after the upcoming Eid.
A glance at Saiful’s smuggling history
On paper, according to law enforcement sources, Saiful Karim was a clearing and forwarding (C&F) agent and trader. He had a wood importing agency named SK International, which he reportedly used as a front to run his real operation – smuggling yaba from Myanmar.
Sources said he had multiple ships that were used to smuggle-in hundreds of thousands of yaba pills from 38 Myanmar-based factories to Bangladesh, every day.
Nearly every report from every intelligence agency included the names of Saiful and his family members. His five brothers are also reportedly involved in yaba dealing.
On February 16, 102 yaba smugglers and dealers surrendered to police in the first phase of a surrender program, at an event in Cox’s Bazar. Saiful was supposed to surrender at that time, but he did not show up.