smuggling goes on
Maungdaw, 6 October 2002: Smuggling syndicates on both
sides of the Burma Bangladesh border have
recently scaled up their operations along the border, a source in the law
enforcement agency in Western Burma told Narinjara on condition of anonymity.
The alleged cross-border traffickers have been adopting newer ways to trick the
law enforcement agencies on both sides of the Naaf River,
he said. Consignments of illegal traffic including narcotics are now shuttled
through different border routes by land or by sea.
When asked the source said that at present there is no bilateral cooperation
on suppression of illegal smuggling along the common porous border.
In mid-September the air in the south-eastern Bangladeshi border town of Teknaf was ripe with a rumour of a large transhipment of
illegal weapons through the sea. The law enforcement agencies in the area
were put on red alert for at least two weeks. But the long wait proved to
be a hoax.
Meanwhile, it is now realized that a large consignment of narcotic drugs, not
weapons, was delivered by sea route into the Bangladeshi seaport of Chittagong, far north from Teknaf
the smugglers used the ‘rumour’ to divert the
attention of the law enforcement agencies including the navy, border security
forces and coast guards on both sides of the border! The red alert
actually helped for the safe passage of the consignment!
While big syndicates of Burmese smuggling rings operate in conjunction with the
high-ups in the Burmese junta, on the Bangladesh side, it is usually the
political pressure upon the law enforcement agencies that prevent them from
taking any actions, the Bangladeshi press has often suggested. Besides,
many corrupt officials on both sides of the border act as party to the illegal
cross-border trafficking, a renowned trader in Maungdaw
town, western Burma,
The smuggling rings operate at Maungdaw and Sittwe in Rakhine
State in Western Burma,
close to Bangladesh,
and in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazaar and Chittagong in Bangladesh.
Large cargo vessels and trawlers are loaded with electronic goods, crockery,
agricultural produce, fish and shrimps at points under the ‘safe control’ of
the Burmese law enforcement agencies in Burma including Sittwe
in Rakhine State and Pyi in
Burma Proper before they are sailed to the coastline between Chittagong and St Martin’s Island in
Bangladesh. There the Bangladeshi operators under the political
guardianship of the ruling coalition unload the illegal contraband in safe
With growing numbers of drug pushers and vendors throughout Bangladesh,
there is a rising concern about the trafficking of drugs from Burma.
In a recent haul a contingent of troops from the Bangladesh Rifles Battalion 23
of Teknaf in south-eastern Bangladesh
unearthed illegal narcotic drugs and textile goods worth US $20,000 from an
underground store in the area, reported the Janakantha,
a Bengali Dhaka daily.
A veteran journalist from Cox’s Bazaar added that, in the guise of border
trade, volumes of goods imported from Burma
are under invoiced, and through shady deals and arrangements narcotics are
filtered into Bangladesh.
Many of the illegal drug traffickers in the area are so powerful that no
government agencies dare take action against them for fear of loosing life or