The investigators are trying to trace out the godfather of the gold smuggling racket which has been using Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HISA), Dhaka, and Shah Amanat International Airport, Chittagong, for its purpose.
Investigators have got some names of bigwigs such as ministers, lawmakers, high-ranking government officials and influential businessmen who are suspected of being involved in the gold smuggling. Detectives said that those being held were in charge of preparing working rotas for junior officials. The investigators received green light to go ahead with the investigation without fear and influence. DB police are scrutinizing the names and gathering information about the bigwigs involved in gold smuggling.
Detective Branch (DB) police arrested Biman DGM Emdad Hossain, Flight Captain Shahidullah, Schedule in-charge Tozzamel Haque, Uttara's Farhan Money Exchange owner Harun-ur-Rashid and Biman contractor Mahmudul Haque Palash. The five suspects were remanded for four days in DB custody.
An official of the Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) told The Daily Observer on Friday that Palash the "god son" of Biman Chairman Jamal Uddin Ahmed forced junior Biman officials to do the preparatory work for gold smuggling. Other arrested officials generally looked after the implementation part of a smuggling assignment allegedly given by Palash .
The DB official, who was part of the interrogation team, said there are more gold smuggling rackets in the country, Palash said during interrogation. He also confessed to the investigators that there are three active syndicates controlled by three separate godfathers.
There are some other airport-based rackets as well where those involved sometimes got engaged in feuds over sharing and negotiation.
In the recent months, gold smuggling in Bangladesh has increased significantly. Customs officials say that they have seized around 650kg of gold - worth an estimated $31m (£20m) - in the last 15 months. Biman is losing money and closing down routes despite being heavily subsidised.
"They would always put officials on duty who were members of the smuggling syndicate," a police official said. "This would create a safe route for smuggling." Some of the cabin crew, captains and top of officials of Biman are involved in gold smuggling and most of them were recruited or promoted by Biman Chairman Jamal Uddin Ahmed, investigator sources said.
The five arrested person did not believe that we had actually arrested them until our car started heading towards the DB office at Minto Road.
They thought we were escorting them to the Airport police station where a meeting was scheduled to be held among Biman officials regarding a feud," the detectives said.
"They had no fear. This can only happen if they have strong backing from people in the government. We have so far got the names of four-five politicians and will now scrutinise the information.
These politicians have ensured that these particular officials remained posted at the Dhaka airport for years. Some of them have even got their service tenure extended illegally.
"As they have been working at the airport for many years, they can manipulate everything. They used to handpick people for various jobs including flight staff and pilots," the DB official said.
"These senior Biman officials sometimes got share of gold just for turning a blind eye towards the smuggling activities," he said. Palash also used both his ex and current wives who are working as Biman's flight stewardesses in this unlawful business.