Editorial Notes

We cannot allow Dhaka to become a drug trafficking route: Daily Star

The paper says that while drug trafficking syndicates are not easy to dismantle, agencies involved must take concerted efforts to make Bangladesh's borders less porous.

The continuous and constant trafficking of illegal goods through Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal Airport merits a firm and immediate response, writes the Daily Star.
The continuous and constant trafficking of illegal goods through Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal Airport merits a firm and immediate response, writes the Daily Star.PHOTO: UNSPLASH

DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - In a report published in this daily, it was revealed that a group of chemical traders in Chennai had been smuggling amphetamine from India through Dhaka to several destinations, mostly in Australia and Malaysia, after linking up with some chemical importers at Mitford medicine hub.

This smuggling route was operated smoothly by these unscrupulous traders for a year, until 12.32 kg of amphetamine powder was seized from the cargo village area of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on September 9.

It is a huge cause of concern that the banned amphetamine powder, which can be processed into the drug yaba, can be so easily brought into the country under false declaration and without the knowledge of courier companies.

Investigations by the Department of Narcotics Control revealed that at least 600 kg of the powder was smuggled out of Bangladesh using courier services after its arrival from India via the Benapole border - a trade worth around Tk 600 crore (S$95 million).

How is it possible that illegal substances worth such a huge sum of money was trafficked, using Bangladesh as the central point of this smuggling route, simply because our airport does not have functioning 3D scanners?

While the director of Hazrat Shahjalal Airport said more CCTV cameras and X-ray machines are being installed at the airport, he was unable to specify whether they were the 3D scanners required for detecting drugs, saying only that they are "modern".

Such lacklustre responses will not do - the continuous and constant trafficking of illegal goods through our biggest national airport is hugely damaging to our international reputation and merits a firm and immediate response.

We urge the concerned authorities to urgently investigate any airport personnel or employees of the courier services who may have been involved with this smuggling syndicate.

The airport authorities must ramp up their security scanning and the courier services must also play their part in ensuring that such illegal trades do not continue.

Drug trafficking syndicates are never easy to dismantle, but there must be serious and concerted efforts from all agencies involved to make our borders less porous when it comes to illegal trade.

Ultimately, the government needs to follow the money and ensure that the finances for these illegal substances are cut off at the source.

The Daily Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media organisations.