The ‘godfathers’ of yaba traders in Teknaf upazila of Cox’s Bazar have gone into hiding after four of the suspected drug peddlers of the upazila were killed in what law enforcers called gunfights.
Local people said the ongoing anti-drug drives since 16 May have also created fear among the commoners.
The anti-drug drives, according to the local traders, have turned marketplaces in the areas nearly vacant.
Since the beginning of the drives, they said the number of customers at shops, vegetable, fish and meat markets has dropped significantly.
The volume of business has been reduced to half this year comparing to the corresponding period in the last year.
Teknaf Model police station officer-in-charge Ranajit Kumar Barua told Prothom Alo that the police have raided houses of several top yaba traders in Teknaf.
“But they have gone into hiding in Dubai, Malaysia, India and even in Saudi Arabia in the name performing Omrah and in other parts of the country,” he added.
Officials at the law enforcement said member of Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB), police and Coast Guards have so far recovered more than 17.2 million pieces of yaba in the area between January and May this year.
Recently, the detectives of the district have made a list of 1,151 yaba smugglers.
Of them, 912 yaba smugglers, including 52 ‘godfathers’ are from Teknaf upazila.
Some 30 yaba smugglers on the list are relatives of Abdur Rahman Badi, a ruling Awami League's member of parliament from Cox's Bazar.
Police and detectives said there is 12/15-member gang led by Badi’s younger brother Mujibur Rahman. The gang controls a few kilometres of area on the bank of Naf river’s Chowdhurypara, Jaliapara and Naithangpara.
On the other hand, Badi’s nephews -- Sahedur Rahman and Mufizur Rahman - helped deliver the yaba consignment from Myanmar in the coastal areas of Sabrang union in the upazila.
However, amid the drives, the Cox’s Bazar MP Badi, who reportedly is also on drug traders list, left the country for Saudi Arabia to perform Omrah.
Badi’s personal assistant Helal Uddin said he would return home on 17 June after observing the Omrah.
Officials in the administration said a total of 37 yaba manufacturing factories have been set up inside Myanmar in bordering areas of Bangladesh. Myanmar-based 10 drug dealers bring the yaba tablets to Teknaf.
Teknaf BGB commander lieutenant colonel Asadud Zaman Chowdhury told Prothom Alo that the yaba pills are now being traded on sea routes after intensified BGB vigilance and intelligence surveillance in the area.
The members of BGB in the area have seized nearly 7 million pieces of yaba and detained 123 persons in last five months.
Some of them took shelter at the Rohingya camps in Teknaf to avoid arrest.
District police superintendent AKM Iqbal Hossain said police have arrested 420 drug traders and recovered 450,000 yaba pills.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam.