Around 9:30pm last Saturday, a police team stopped a motorbike in the capital's Palashi Residential Area. Alleged yaba dealers they had arrested earlier told them that a bike, registered in Chittagong, would have yaba pills stashed inside.
The police were not ill prepared. They had brought along two mechanics. They went through every compartment and cubby hole of the bike but there was nothing.
Rider Mehedi Hasan alias Antu, 23, started arguing with police saying it had been almost 30 minutes since he was stopped and that it was harassment by police. By then, quite a crowd had gathered.
The police team was undeterred. They called in a sniffer dog.
It paid off. The dog indicated to its handler that there was something in the chassis and the shock absorbers, said a police officer who was a member of the team.
The mechanics opened up the bike. At least 2,000 yaba pills were found inside the frame and another 3,000 inside the shocks.
During police interrogation, Antu said he had been a yaba mule for over seven years and until now, police had not been able to discover the pills inside the bike, said Rahmatullah Chowdhury, additional deputy commissioner of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit.
Antu elaborated that they fill the bike with yaba pills and then send it to Dhaka from Cox's Bazar and sometimes Chittagong using courier service.
After the bike is received in Dhaka, it is taken to their den where a mechanic extracts the pills.
The bike is sent back the next day by courier.
ADC Rahmatullah said the yaba smugglers change courier service providers for sending and receiving bikes.
The CTTC discovered this innovative method of yaba smuggling after they had arrested Sarowar Sohag, 32, a Tanti League Dhaka City unit leader, Sanjida Rajia Borma, 45, and Omar Faruk, 22, at Azimpur earlier that evening.
They found 14,000 yaba pills in their possession.
During interrogation, the three told police that another drug smuggler was waiting at Palashi Residential Area Gate-2 to hand over a consignment and that he was on a motorbike with a Chittagong plate.
ADC Rahmatullah said during primary interrogation, they learnt that the gang receives three to four such shipments, each with 10,000 to 15,000 pills. The gang has six bikes designated for moving yaba.
Sometimes, police stop the bikes but they are usually let go as nothing is found in them, said a police official, quoting the arrestees.
Sohag has been involved in yaba smuggling for two years, claimed investigators, adding that he leads the gang in Dhaka.
CTTC ADC Ahmedul Islam, who is coordinating the investigation, said at least 25 more suspects are in this gang and they have some names too. “We are now conducting drives to arrest the others,” he added.
An intelligence report prepared by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police earlier found the existence of nearly 100 godfathers, mostly from the Awami League and its front organisations, patronising drug smuggling, particularly yaba, in the capital.
The dealers often use innovative techniques for shipments. Some even operate transport agencies in Chittagong and Cox's Bazar to move drugs.
A team of CTTC yesterday produced Antu and the other three before a Dhaka court seeking 10-day remand for each in the case filed with Lalbagh Police Station.
The court granted two-day remand for each.