The Rapid Action Battalion or RAB has confiscated a large consignment of foreign liquors disguised as threads and machinery in Narayanganj’s Sonargaon en route from the Chattogram Port, bdnews24.com reports.
The bottles were stored in two large containers and released without scan at the port, RAB spokesman Commander Khandaker Al Moin said on Sunday.
RAB found as many as 36,816 bottles and said the primary buyers of these illegal liquors were some hotels, bars and clubs in Dhaka. A group from Munshiganj was behind the fraudulent import and their network goes as far as Dubai.
The seized shipment is the largest-ever liquor consignment held by RAB.
The ring was responsible for three more consignments of illegal liquor imports containing almost 48,000 bottles this year, RAB added.
The prime suspects of these illegal imports, Azizul Islam and his elder son Mizanur Rahman Ashik fled to Dubai on Saturday morning. The younger son Abdul Ahad was arrested in the Dhaka airport area on Sunday morning.
A Bangladeshi-origin person named Nasir Uddin, who is also from Munshiganj, is pulling the strings of the group from Dubai.
“The recovered liquors cost Tk 315.8 million as per government-fixed rates and including VAT, the total price would be Tk 368.8 million,” Moin said.
The containers, each 40 feet long, were taken out through the port’s Gate No. 1 on Friday evening by making a false declaration that they were imported by Ishwardi EPZ BHK Textile Mills Ltd and Cumilla EPZ Hashy Tiger Company Ltd.
“There are no such companies in Ishwardi or Cumilla EPZ. Azizul imported the huge consignment of liquor forging fake documents in the name of these two companies,” the RAB officer said.
Azizul is chairman of Sholaghar Union Parishad in Munshiganj’s Sreenagar Upazila and an adviser to Sreenagar’s Awami League unit. He is a member of the Awami League central committee’s religious affairs subcommittee.
RAB also detained Nazmul Molla and Saiful Islam, both members of the group from Munshiganj, in the raid on Friday. “Nazmul and Saiful said the consignment was supposed to be sent to Azizul.”
“His son Ahad dealt with the Chattogram Port and the security of the shipment. Ahad and his elder brother Ashik were sending the haul to their personal warehouse in Sreenagar,” Moin added.
None of them was at the warehouse or their home when RAB personnel arrived there. The unit found out that the brothers had a 12-storey building in Dhaka’s Wari. That house was empty as well but contained Bangladeshi and foreign money amounting to Tk 9.8 million, 4,000 euro and 11,000 yuan along with Indian and Nepalese rupees, Singaporean dollars and Malaysian ringgit.
“They have smaller warehouses in Bangshal and Wari. People from hotels, bars and clubs bought off their previous shipments within a day. The customers purchased their lots in the middle of the streets when the containers exited the port at night.”
Moin said Ahad revealed that Nasir, who is based at a hotel in Dubai, had been supplying the liquors to Dhaka and “negotiates the prices” with the customers.
C&F (Chittagong Customs Clearing & Forwarding) agents Jafar, Shamim and Rayhan released the shipment from the port, Moin added.
“During initial interrogations, the arrestees said they had been able to successfully avoid scanning at the port using different methods. Those investigating customs can tell what happened…”
Moin also mentioned that it will be clear whether any customs official was involved once C&F agents are apprehended.
DUBIOUS DEATH OF AZIZUL’S TENANT
The day before the shipment was held, Faruk Hossain, 40, died, raising questions over possible links with the seized consignment.
Faruk’s elder brother Shahjahan, who gave a single name, filed an unnatural death case with Munshiganj police. He said Faruk died between Friday 2am and 9am. There were no wound marks on his body and the cause of death is unclear.
Faruk is the son of Abdul Mannan Sheikh from Selamati village. He was alone at home on the night he died.
Sreenagar OC Aminul Islam said, “We found Faruk’s body at the hospital. His relatives said that he was a cable operator for foreign television channels but became a drug abuser. He might’ve committed suicide after becoming depressed over his wife leaving him.”
“But Faruk’s relatives did not want police to have the body for autopsy. At one point, police had to force them to give the body.”
The cause of his death will be clear after the autopsy report.