Yaba traders gather in Cox's Bazar to surrender

Yaba traders gather in Cox's Bazar to surrender
Teknaf UP member Md Anamul Hoque had announced his surrender on Facebook.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said yaba traders are ready to surrender to the authorities in Cox’s Bazar at the end of January. 

He made the comment to bdnews24.com amid reports that listed smugglers of the illegal drug were assembling in the district amidst an ongoing anti-drug raid. 

“I told them (police) to prepare details of their (yaba traders) identities. We will go over there on the 30th of January or the first week of February,” said the minister on Friday.       

Deaths of suspected drug dealers, killed in so-called shootouts with police, continue to be reported from across Bangladesh since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered the anti-drug operation in May last year. But their activities proved difficult to restrain, reports bdnews24.com. 

The government then began discussing the possibility of allowing yaba smugglers to surrender. The idea began to gain ground when a group of yaba smugglers based in Cox’s Bazar contacted police saying they wanted to surrender. 

Then Anamul Hoque, a union council member from Teknaf who police identified as a drug trader, announced his surrender on Facebook.

There are reports that more than a hundred like him have assembled in Cox’s Bazar to seek ‘security in custody’.

When asked about the report, Cox’s Bazar Police Superintendent ABM Masud Hossain told bdnews24.com, “Police have made contact with several yaba businessmen. They want to surrender voluntarily. The matter is being discussed in the top levels of administration."

But he denied that police were providing the listed smugglers with custody.  

“They’ve contacted each other and gathered on their own. They’ve assembled in a place at Cox’s Bazar and have been providing themselves safe custody.”

“There will be cases filed if they don’t return to normal activities,” said Home Minister Kamal said when asked about the possible conditions of their surrender.

“We’ll look into their cases if they don’t return to normal life.”

The minister declined a direct reply when asked whether there is a possibility of legitimising the wealth they have accumulated through their illegal business dealings.

“The matter of assets … the ACC or the NBR will look into that,” he said.


The methamphetamine-based pills are mostly smuggled through Cox’s Bazar, the southeast district that shares borders with Myanmar. The route is used for bringing in other drugs as well.

Of those listed as yaba traders by the police, 1,151 individuals are based in Cox’s Bazar. Of them, 73 are identified as ‘top yaba bosses’. These men are mostly from Teknaf, a sub-district in Cox’s Bazar.

Forty-three pirates from Moheshkhali had surrendered to the home minister on Oct 20 last year, said Police Superintendent Masud. The surrender happened because the pirates had contacted journalist MM Akram Hossain of Channel-24, said the policeman.

“Those pirates are now in jail. Akram visited them in prison recently, to see how they were doing. That is when Akram got to know people detained in yaba cases. Akram learned from them that a section of yaba traders want to surrender like the pirates and return to normal life.”

“The journalist then contacted law-enforcers and others in the administration. Police then became active.”

The police wrote an official letter to the higher authorities about ‘the proposal’ from yaba businessmen, said SP Masud.

“The formalities surrounding their official surrender will be carried out once the decision is made at a policy-level. We are hoping the process begins soon.”

When asked about yaba traders gathering in Cox’s Bazar, journalist Akram Hossain said: “The yaba businessmen are in daily contact with the authorities. They themselves agreed to come into protective custody. So far many have come into custody.”

But he did not say who was providing them with custody, or how many of them had come.

“The law-enforcers have not revealed anything regarding this matter. But according to various sources, there are so far over one hundred yaba businessmen who have agreed to surrender and sought custody from relevant bodies,” said the journalist.         


Anamul Hoque, the Union Parishad member of Teknaf Upazila Sadar Union Ward 4, had announced on Facebook that he would surrender to police.

But his family are unaware of Anamul's whereabouts after his surrender following which he left his home with the police.

In a Facebook status update on Jan 15, which began by addressing the ‘dear people of Teknaf’, the UP member wrote, “I am formally starting the process of my surrender.”

Nurul Hoque, Anamul’s elder brother, said a local journalist had arranged contact between Anamul and the authorities in relation to his surrender. He later left with a police officer and a journalist to turn himself in to the authorities on Tuesday.

But Nurul could not say where his brother was taken.

“Anamul is being held somewhere in Cox’s Bazar’s Police Lines. He is in the custody of the police,” he claimed, based on what he heard from others.

“We were worried for his safety after his name appeared on a list of drug suspects drawn up by law-enforcing agencies before an anti-narcotics drive. So we convinced him to surrender,” added Nurul.

The family are not as concerned about Anamul now that he is ‘in safe custody after surrender’, according to Nurul.

“Teknaf UP member Anamul is a listed yaba-trader. There are 15 cases against him started with the Teknaf police,” said their OC Pradip Kumar Das.


On Jan 10, former Teknaf MP Abdur Rahman Bodi gave ‘marked and listed’ yaba traders a five-day ultimatum to surrender.

Speaking in a meeting with party activists along with his wife Shahin Akhter, the newly-elected MP for Cox’s Bazar-4, Bodi promised that terrible consequences would face anyone who failed to surrender.

Bodi himself has for a long time been accused of being involved in the smuggling of the methamphetamine tablets.

“What is the basis of calling me a yaba smuggler? Have I ever been caught with yaba by law-enforcers? Is there even a single case against me in any police station?” he had asked at the meeting.

“I’ve been given a bad name even though I’ve never been involved in the yaba trade. Now my wife Shahin Akhter is an elected MP and I don’t want her to suffer the same ignominy. So I’m calling on all marked and listed yaba smugglers to surrender to the authorities.”

Bodi said a number of yaba smugglers had contacted him recently and agreed to surrender to the authorities, adding that he had held discussions with law-enforcement and other authorities regarding the surrender.


MP Masud said at least 51 yaba smugglers have been killed in so-called ‘shootouts’ with the police and internal conflicts in Cox’s Bazar since the start of the anti-narcotics crackdown by law-enforcing agencies, bdnews24.com said.

Despite the recent crackdown, security forces have not been able to put a complete stop to the trafficking of the tablets, as a section of Rohingya refugees continue to distribute shipments of the drug from their camps in Cox’s Bazar, said Masud.

“Yaba smugglers have been cornered by the drive. Most of them have gone into hiding. As a result, they have not been able to contact their associates in Myanmar and this has made it difficult for them to smuggle their shipments into the country,” he said. 

“Police have information that a number of yaba traders in Myanmar have contacted local traders to smuggle yaba pills into the country. But the traders have been reluctant to engage with them in light of the recent crackdown.

“But the number of yaba shipments entering the country has gone down by a third of what it used to,” said MP Masud.

“Law-enforcing personnel recover around three million yaba pills every month in drives against smugglers crossing into Cox’s Bazar from the Myanmar border. But the amount of tablets recovered dropped to around 800,000 in December following the anti-narcotics drive.” 
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