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Opium entering Bangladesh as ‘medicine raw material’

After laboratory testing, the officials said that the seized substance is the pure form of opium. It is possible to make morphine, Phensedyl (codeine) and heroin with it.

The Daily Star/ANN |

A transnational syndicate has been smuggling narcotics by declaring the consignments as raw materials of medicines, claim officials of the  Narcotics Department, Bangladesh.

On information, Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) of Bangladesh has started surveillance. It managed to seize 3 kilogrammes of opium from the capital’s Paltan and Banasree areas on Friday night.

DNC officials claimed that it is one of the biggest seizures by the agency in recent times.

After laboratory testing, the officials said that the seized substance is the pure form of opium. It is possible to make morphine, Phensedyl (codeine) and heroin with it.

They are suspecting that the consignment came to Bangladesh from Afghanistan through India, but they need time to verify the route.

Zafarullah Kazal, additional director of Dhaka Division DNC, made the disclosure while addressing a briefing in the capital’s Tejgaon area yesterday.

“We have managed to arrest two for their involvement with the smuggling,” he said.

DNC identified the arrestees as Abul Motaleb (46), who runs a business of supplying labour, and Jahangir Siddique Bhuyan (44), project manager of a company.

Kazal said officials pretended to be buyers of narcotics to make the arrest.

The syndicate demanded Tk 75 lakh for 1 kg of opium, he said.

A DNC team first arrested Abul from Paltan and found 2 kg of opium, which was packed inside a plastic container. On Abul’s information, the team conducted a drive in Bansaree and arrested Jahangir with 1 kg of opium, said Kazal.

Asked about the arrestees, he said they have started an investigation to know how Abul and Jahangir got involved in this.

“During primary interrogation, the arrestees said it was their first ever consignment. But we are verifying the claim,” he said.

“We came to know that they brought the consignment into Dhaka from Noakhali. We also got details of two other suspects involved with the smuggling and are conducting a drive to arrest them,” said the officer.

He refused to disclose further details of the ongoing investigation.

Kazal said that opium is a “type-A (ka)” drug. The narcotic law has provision of death penalty for smuggling 25 grammes of type-A narcotics, but it is subject to be proven in court.

He further said opium can be taken in two ways: inhalation and directly putting it under the tongue.

Asked whether Bangladesh was the final destination of the consignment, he said, “We still need time to determine that.”

“Opium is cultivated in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. We are suspecting that this consignment came from Afghanistan and then entered Bangladesh through India,” he said.

“We may be able to ascertain this after the investigation ends,” he added.