Coronavirus fails to blunt drug trade


While most of the law enforcers are engaged in the ongoing fight against the deadly coronavirus, drug peddlers, grabbing the chance, have again become active in the illegal drug trade.

Sources in the police and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) said, considering the recurrences of narcotics trading, the home ministry has instructed all operational units of police and paramilitary BGB to launch drives against drug traders and masterminds.

On getting the instructions, police and other law enforcing agencies recently have again begun drives to eliminate drug smuggling across the country.

Lt. Col. Mohammad Faisal Hasan Khan, commander of BGB’s Teknaf Battalion said early Thursday, we recovered 35,980 pieces of Yaba tablets and arrested a drug peddler from the Teknaf area.

According to the officers involved in the anti-drug operation, Teknaf can still be considered the capital of Yaba.
Most of the Yaba for smuggling is entering Teknaf from neighboring Myanmar. The Yaba is then distributed across the country. 

They claimed that Yaba trading has not stopped even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Drug traders are supplying drugs using new tactics. Sometimes drug dealers are using passenger buses, ambulances and vehicles engaged in emergency services. Sometimes, they are also using relief carrying vehicles to dodge the law enforcers.

A senior police officer said, some drug businessmen are taking orders online. In many cases, retailers are also selling drugs using different social networking sites including Facebook. They are also using various communication apps including Whatsapp, Imo and Viber to sell drugs. Drug users are also placing their orders online to get home delivery.

Earlier on May 4, 2016, RAB launched a special operation against drugs. Later, other agencies including the police also launched anti-drug drives. Hundreds of alleged drug traders were killed during the anti-drug operations.

Several thousand drug dealers were also arrested. But law enforcers have not yet eradicated the narcotics. Drug trading is still going on.

RAB officers said that from May 3, 2016 to June 20 this year, RAB alone seized drugs worth one thousand three crore 7 lakh Taka. They also arrested 34,517 drug dealers during these two years .

In the four months since the COVID-19 situation, RAB arrested at least 2,000 drug traders and traffickers. More than 1 million Yaba pills were seized during the time .

RAB also found that drug traders opened a group on Facebook called 'Wade Lovers'. They were giving home delivery of drugs getting online orders. Wade Lovers group had at least 15,000 members. Police also unearthed a drug syndicate which was selling drugs over the phone.

According to the police headquarters, in March this year, there were 7,825 drug cases across the country. In April, the number of cases dropped to 1,640. But the number of cases in May was 2, 465.

A senior officer of the Narcotics Control Department said that they lodged an average of 250-300 drug recovery cases in the capital Dhaka every month before the COVID-19 situation. During the corona period, the number of cases dropped to an average of 100 per month. Responding to the decrease in cases, he said, it is not possible to carry out continuous operations at this time. 

Because if one member of a unit is infected with COVID-19, all the members of that unit have to be quarantined.
In March, BGB recovered 9 lakh 33 thousand 72 pieces of Yaba tablets. In April, BGB seized three lakh 10 thousand 721 pieces of Yaba. In May, BGB recovered 4,48,007 pieces of Yaba.

Assistant Inspector General ( Media and Public Relations) of Police Headquarters Mir SohelRana said, we have zero tolerance against drug peddling.

Despite the risk of being infected, police are continuing drives against drug dealing, he said.
He however said, mass awareness in society is a must to combat drugs.