Bangladesh seizes S$8.7 million of cocaine at airport, arrests Spaniard for alleged smuggling

DHAKA (AFP) - Bangladesh anti-drugs officers seized US$6.2 million (S$8.72 million) of cocaine at Dhaka airport and arrested a Spanish national on suspicion of smuggling, officials said on Wednesday (Dec 9), the country's second-biggest haul of the substance.

P.J. Julian, 47, was arrested at the Bangladeshi capital's airport on Tuesday evening with 3kg of cocaine hidden inside the lid of his suitcase, the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) said.

Cocaine is not a popular drug in Bangladesh, but international cartels use it as a "safe route" for smuggling it into Europe and South-east Asia, seeing the country as less likely to come under suspicion.

Julian had travelled to Dhaka from Brazil's Sao Paulo via Dubai, before being arrested by officials acting on a tip-off from the United States about a suspected trafficker.

"The drugs in the suitcase could not be traced in the scanner, but we knew the tag of the suspected luggage," DNC director Towfique Uddin told AFP.

Julian is expected to appear in court later and could face the death penalty if found guilty of drug smuggling.

"If his involvement is proved with the drug trafficking, he may get a death sentence irrespective of his nationality," Mr Nadim Miah, public prosecutor for a special drug crimes court in Dhaka, told AFP.

The prosecutor said it was the second-biggest cocaine haul in the Muslim-majority nation after US$14 million of liquid cocaine was found mixed in barrels containing sunflower oil in the port city of Chittagong in June.