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Routes of drug trafficking

1069968_397883720320617_419806025_nABID AZAD explores the different routes for trafficking drugs which makes the drug abuse easier and more difficult to fight.

Among the trafficking routes of Bangladesh, the vast forests and terrain areas of hill tracts and the Bangladeshi, Myanmar and Thai Fishing Trawlers are being safely used for trafficking heroin into Bangladesh, according to the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC).

DNC also alleged that heroin produced in North Myanmar, Laos and Thailand is generally trafficked into foreign countries through Calcutta, Madras and Mumbai routes of India and through Thailand and Rangoon. But the International drug barons and the Mafia network also find Bangladesh as a safe and alternate trafficking route when the Indian and Myanmar routes become risky.

According to DNC, there are two major international drug trafficking routes that are being used to smuggle a huge amount of illicit drug around the world every year while each consignment is worth thousands of dollars.
One of these routes starts from Golden Triangle, which is one of Asia’s two main opium-producing areas since 1920s with an area of around 367,000 square miles.

The Golden Triangle ends in Canada via Myanmar, Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Middle East, South and South Eastern Europe, Western Europe and USA with air, land and sea ways.

The other route starts from Golden Crescent, another main opium-producing area, which ends in Canada via Pakistan, Middle East, Africa, Europe and USA.

The Golden Triangle overlaps the mountains of four countries of Southeast Asia – Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand while the Golden Crescent overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent, through only Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The DNC also marked another route which goes through India, Bangladesh, Middle East, Indian Ocean, Europe, USA and Canada.

On the other hand, according to the DNC, illegal drugs are smuggled into the country through some 45-50 points along the borders with the two neighbouring countries – India and Myanmar while the entire route is divided into three major parts of the country: western, eastern and northern routes.

Thirty-two districts out of 64 are situated at the border area in Bangladesh. A DNC official says to Xtra that as Bangladesh is sharing its longest border with India’s arm stretching 4,138 km and another 283 km border with Myanmar to the northeast, it has become very risky and vulnerable for drug trafficking and abuse.

The western routes are Darshana, Jibannagar of Chuadanga, Hili and Birol of Dinajpur and Moghulhat, Aditmari, Durgapur, Fulbari, Nageshwari of Kurigram and Nawabganj, Rajshahi, Meherpur and Debhat, and Kaliganj of Khulna and Benapole, Chowgachha of Jessore.

Eastern Routes are Akhaura, Jhautala, Sadullahpur, Naogaon, Singer Bil, Col. Bazar, Gangasagar and Kasba of Brahmanbaria, Bibirbazar, Chagalnaiya, Maharajganj and Gutuma of Feni, Barkal and Baghaichari of Rangamati, Chittagong, Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar, Dighinala, Panchari, and Matiranga of Khagrachari.

Northern Routes are Haluaghat (Telikhali, Karaitali, Suryapur, Bandarkata, Munsirhat, Munshipara) of Mymensing and Durgapur (Bijoypur and Bhabani area) of Netrokona and Bangla Banda, Bhurungabari, Jhenaigati, Sunamgonj and Tamabil.

Among all the routes the most vulnerable situation for drug trafficking continues on Hili of Dinajpur, Jhenaidaha, Shatkhira, Rajshahi, Benapole and Chowgachha of Jessore, and Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar.

However, sources from different agencies confirm Xtra some new routes which are now being deliberately used by the drug peddlers and syndicates.
Instead of using the previous route Teknaf from Myanmar through the Naf River, the drug peddlers now use new routes from the bordering areas of Feni and Comilla from Myanmar through India’s Tripura state while sometimes the peddlers also uses Teknaf route.

Intelligence sources tell Xtra, the illicit drugs enter into Feni and Comilla through the new route while sometimes from Teknaf, while adding that other syndicates, after receiving consignment, deliver it to Dhaka.
The other route is at Ishwardi, the western most upazila of Pabna District, where it is also the headquarters of western zone of Bangladesh Railway. On Ishwardi’s south there is Kushtia Sadar while Pabna city is on the east and Padma river on the west.

Sources in the intelligence say Ishwardi is one of the most preferable routes for drug trafficking as there are many options for the drug peddlers like roads, rail and also waterways. It becomes a central area for easy drug trafficking from Hili of Dinajpur, Godagari and Bagha of Rajshahi on its north and Meherpur, Chuadanga, Kushtia and Jhenidah on its south. However, a hotbed of the trafficking prevails between Ishwardi and Lalpur of Natore which is known as another ‘drugs point’.

Some sources in Ishwardi say, the railway station is the most vital point for illicit drug trafficking. When drugs reach Ishwardi’s different points, especially Lalpur, it is delivered to Dhaka very quickly by road, railway and waterway.



As yaba has become the most consumed drug in the country over the last decade, DNC has observed the drug spreading out from urban areas to rural parts. Yaba is now the most popular narcotics among the young generation.

The city’s Gulshan, Arambag, Khilgaon, Fakirapul, Chankharpul and Uttara are the most vulnerable place for yaba trading. Yaba comes to these places from Myanmar via Teknaf while sometimes it also enters from Feni.

DNC officials says, law enforcers often arrest yaba peddlers and dealers with huge amount of the methamphetamine tablets but it still cannot be brought under control.

A yaba tablet which is bought at Tk 100 from Myanmar is sold between Tk 600 and Tk 1,000 in the city, says a narcotics control official.

However, a senior official from the intelligence tells Xtra, that they have already got information that some syndicate are trying to manufacture yaba tablets inside the country after purchasing raw materials from Myanmar.


United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) estimates that around 3.6 per cent of the world population of South Asia abuse cannabis at least once a year.

All the law enforcement agencies together recovered 38,702 kilogrammes of cannabis in 2012 while 54,244 kg in 2011, 48,749.36 kg in 2010 and 32,955.58 kg in 2009.

The cannabis comes mostly from India through Comilla, Jessore, Rajshahi, Jhenaidah and Kushtia. Carriers then bring the drug to the capital city by road and railways, according to intelligence sources.

The city’s Karwan Bazar is the centre of cannabis business while Chankharpul and Aminbazaar, suburbs of the city, are also well-known for trade and supply of cannabis. On its arrival in these areas, the big consignments of cannabis spread out around the city and nearer areas within a very short time, the DNC sources say. Cannabis can be found at these places 24 hours, they say.


The INCB in its 2012 report identified heroin as most frequently abused drug in Bangladesh.

According to DNC statistics, 124.92kg heroin was seized in 2012, 107.50 kg in 2011, 188.19 kg in 2010 and 159.78 kg in 2009.

According to World Drug Report 2013, China reports Malaysia as the second leading country, after Myanmar, for heroin.

Most of the heroin consignments are trafficked to Bangladesh from Afghanistan via Pakistan by air while sometimes heroin consignments are brought by sea with the help of fishing trawlers, according to the intelligence sources. The Shah Jalal International Airport has always been a route under surveillance for the drug to enter Dhaka and spread across the country.

However, according to an intelligence agency, Bangladesh is also used as a transit country for heroin trafficking while most of the time foreign nationals are involved in the heroin smuggling.

Such consignments are delivered to Bangkok, Singapore, Japan, Nigeria, UK and Canada including several countries using Bangladesh air and sea ways. Several national and international syndicates are involved in heroin smuggling in the country.


Benapole is the hotbed for phensidyl. Factories are set up in no man’s lands at the borders between Bangladesh and India. Satkhira, Kushtia and Rajshahi are also part of the bordering districts used for smuggling the cough syrup used otherwise for addiction.

According to DNC, on the other side of Indian borders, there are factories and industries of manufacturing codeine based narcotics, named as phensedyl, and are being trafficked into Bangladesh while Indian Border Security Force and Border Guards Bangladesh keep a benign gaze over the setup.

According to DNC, 1,291,078 phensedyl (Codeine Preparation) bottles had been recovered in 2012 while 932,874 in 2011, 961,260 in 2010 and 1,117,354 in 2009. However, loose Codeine had also been seized as 2,613 litres in 2012, 3,228 litres in 2011, 4119.19 litres in 2010 and 2,955.3 litres in 2009.

Ashulia is the most vital point for phensedyl business while the trade also continues at Fakirapul, Khilgaon, Town Hall of Mohammadpur and Chankharpul in the city, say intelligence sources.

Law enforcers say, the smugglers and drug peddlers deliberately change their routes between border areas and Dhaka while the entrance point remain the same, and also change their pattern of all kinds of drug peddling to escape from the law enforcement.

This story was published @ XTRA

Read No end to drug trafficking.

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