Arms trafficking in Bangladesh: remaining networks (2023)

Veronica Kangqian

In perhaps the biggest gun bust since April 2, 2004,Chittagong gun casewhere 10 truck guns were seized,inA huge cache of weapons was recovered by Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) over several days in Satchari National Park, Chunarughat Sub-District, Habiganj District, Bangladesh, adjacent to West Tripura District, Indian state of Tripura. Authorities revealed that during the attack on June 3, 2014, they had discovered 184 rocket projectiles (40 mm) and 153 magazines for rocket launchers abandoned inside a hilltop in the forest of the reserve, about 130 kilometers from the capital Dhaka. found placed same day. On June 4, RAB found two more caches and found 38 rocket-propelled grenades, four machine guns, 95 rocket magazines, 1,300 machine gun rounds and over 13,000 bullets of various calibers. The RAB recovered several arms and ammunition, including four machine guns from a warehouse on June 8, and also found oil used to clean firearms. Two other empty warehouses were also found. Continuing a search operation deep inside the forest of the reserve for eight consecutive days, the RAB made further recoveries, including a machine gun barrel, 633 rounds of ammunition and 54 anti-tank grenades from three newly discovered caches on 9 June.

The area from where the weapons were recovered was once the base camp of the Indian insurgent group, AllTripura Tiger Force, based in Tripura (ATTF). The camp was later captured by rebels belonging to the Tripura National Liberation Front (NLFT). United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), with main operations in the Indian state of Assam, which borders Tripura, and the ATTF had previously smuggled a huge amount of Chinese-made weapons from the Southeast Asian gray market by sea, landing them around Cox's Bazaar or Chittagong and transporting them to insurgent bases. like Satsari from where weapons were smuggledIndia's turbulent northeast.

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However, there is some confusion about current recoveries. Indian security agencies are yet to confirm whether they belong to any militant groups operating in northeast India. Media reports are speculating on the remote possibility that ULFA 'leader' Paresh Baruah would ask the ATTF to store weapons in their bases once and this cannot be ruled out. Reports also indicate that ATTF chief Ranjit Debbarma (now in Tripura jail), who had close links with Paresh Baruah, kept the cache in connivance with ULFA militants. A media report on June 4 said the arms and ammunition belonged to ULFA chief Baruah. Information gathered by Indian intelligence from Debbarma and given to Bangladeshi authorities led to the discovery of the ammunition on 3 June, three kilometers from the border. According to the report, arms smuggled from China through Baruah were stored in the Satchari forest and sent to Indian militants at appropriate times.

However, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal stated that the withdrawal was based on information gathered by local Bangladeshi agencies. Director of RAB Media Wing, Habibur Rahmanad added that arms and ammunition found in Satchari Forest were apparently similar to those found in Chittagong in 2004, and an ammunition truck found inBogra in June 2003. It is also significant that the investigators of the Bogra ammunition shipment established that the ammunition was destined for the Satchari forest and also confirmed its link with the NLFT and ULFA.

Earlier, a court in Bangladesh reached a landmark verdict in the Chittagong arms transfer case, almost 10 years after the incident. On 30 January 2014, a district court in Chittagong sentenced 14 accused to death, including Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ameer (leader) of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jel), Lutfozzaman Babar of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the then Secretary of State for Home, and ULFA-I "Commander-in-Chief" Paresh Baruah (with his absence), for smuggling 10 truckloads of weapons into Chittagong district in 2004 during the tenure of the BNP-led government. Investigations revealed that the weapons were manufactured in China and sent to the ULFA. The convicts also include former Director General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) Major General (Retd) Rezzakul HaiderChowdhury. former Director General of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Brigadier General (Retd) Abdur Rahim and three other NSI staff – Director (Security) Wing, Shahab Uddin Ahmed; Deputy Director Major (Retd) Liakat Hossain. and Field Officer Akbar Hossain Khan. Others facing the death penalty in the case include former Minister of State (Industry) Nurul Amin; then Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Ltd. (CUFL) CEO Mahsin Uddin Talukder; Director General of CUFL (Administration) K.M. Enamul Hoque? and three businessmen, Hafizur Rahman Hafiz, Deen Mohammad and Haji Abdus Subhan.

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The initial stages of the trial, which began in 2005, involved only a few minors, mainly labourers, truckers and trawler drivers, leaving out the big names as the then BNP-led government allegedly tried to cover up the involvement of the state machinery. including ministers and senior intelligence officials. After a military-backed interim government took office on 11 January 2007, ahead of the country's general election, the Chittagong Metropolitan Magistrates' Court ordered further investigations on 14 February 2008. In June 2011, MuniruzzamanChowdhury, Mr. goes and charges 11 news suspects. Although Paresh Barua and former Minister of Industry Nurul Amin have absconded since the weapons were found, the other nine are behind bars. Barua and Amin were sentenced in absentia. The special court verdict noted that then Prime Minister KhaledaZia's role in the incident was "mysterious" and pointed to the direct involvement of then ministers and senior military and civil officials. Justice S. M. Mojibur Rahman also argued that smuggling of such a large quantity of arms and ammunition was not possible without government support, noting: "They [intelligence officials] were involved in the conspiracy to destroy the entire nation, endangering the existence of the country. ."

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajd has now promised separate investigations into the role of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her party (BNP) in the Chittagong gun case, saying, "The trial of the 10 gun trucks is over. Now let us re-examine the conspiracies behind this, where the guns came from , how they were brought to Bangladesh and who financed them.Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in August 1975.

Analysts note that the death sentence of Paresh Barua will have little impact on the group as Barua and most of its cadres have already shifted their base from Bangladesh. However, intelligence officials in Assam believe the elusive rebel leader will be under more pressure to negotiate if Myanmar behaves like Bangladesh, anddrive out rebels from north-east India, including Barua and his paintings, from his territory. Assam Police has information that Barua is currently operating from his base along the Myanmar-China border. Bangladeshi officials argue that the death penalty will at least ensure that Barua cannot enter Bangladesh without judicial intervention.

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It is significant that the verdict comes at a time when the ULFA-I is facing a crisis. Sources say that not more than 10 hardline members of the group are inside Assam and that the group has not more than 180 cadres in Myanmar. Senior leaders based in Nagaland's Mon district were recalled to Myanmar after the group handed down the death sentence to 'operational chief' Pramod GogoipseudonymPartha Pratim Asom. On 16 March 2014 [the party's 'Army Day'], the ULFA-I asked its members to reinforce the disguise fearing that some members had links with the SFs. At least eight ULFA-I cadres, including Pramod Gogoi, were executed on the instructions of ULFA-I commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah for 'conspiring' with police and security forces to plan a surrender of the bulk of cadres in the previous four months. Seven leaders were also executed in December 2013 when they tried to leave the Myanmar base to surrender to police. "Operational commander" Pramod Gogoi was executed on 15 January 2014 in Mon district. ULFA-I is said to have a total of around 240 frames at present.

Notably, Goalpara police found a cache of ULFA-I ammunition and detonators along the Assam-Meghalaya border in Goalpara district on 27 January 2014. Police revealed that a group of ULFA-I militants had entered Hatigaon, a village under the police of Agia Stathmos. , with weapons and explosive materials which they kept inside a rubber plantation. Goalpara (SP) Superintendent of Police Nitul Gogoi said, “We have received information that a group led by Drishti Rajkhowa brought the ammunition from Bangladesh”.

Coordinationbetween the Garo National Liberation Army, based in Meghalaya (GNLA), one of the major arms suppliers in Meghalaya and ULFA-I, remains a concern. In the latest incident, on June 26, 2014, a militant identified as Dharma Kanda Rai, who was a 'submissive' of ULFA-I for GNLA, was killed during a rescue operation by West Garo Hills Police at Darekgre near village from Rongmasugre. in WestGaro Hills District, for the release of four GNLA and ULFA abductees. The abductions took place on June 25 in Kantanagre village in WestGaro Hills district. The dead ULFA-I cadre was reportedly a specialist in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), used by the GNLA to target police movements.

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Worryingly, media reports indicate that a large proportion of weapons and ammunition that reachin Meghalaya, they come from the arsenal of rebel groups currently engaged in peace talks with the government. These groups include the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), the Bodoland National Democratic Front (NDFB) and the pro-talk ULFA faction (ULFA-PTF). According to sources, this frontline military equipment never revealed the exact composition of their arsenal, and according to one source, "80 to 90 percent of these weapons remain unused for five to six years and shortly before the end of their lives. , these militant groups prefer, that you throw away these weapons."

Despite the dramatic improvement in relations between the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and the Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB), insurgent groups in the northeast continue to maintain around 45 safe houses in Bangladesh, most of which belong to the ATTF and NLFT. ( 21 camps), according to BSF Special Director General, BD. Sharma. He added on June 20 that the insurgents could not disappear from Bangladeshi soil because the BGB deployment was small compared to the requirements and that "now they are gathering new forces and we hope that the situation will improve soon. In addition, the country is doing - and river borders also make it difficult to maintain effective border surveillance.' However, Mohammed Latiful Haider, Additional Director General of BGB, denied the existence of Indian militant camps in the country.The denial came on June 25, after the first day of a border coordination conference held between senior BSF and BGB officials at Kadamtala, the headquarters of BSF North Bengal Frontier near Siliguri in Darjeeling district of West Bengal.

Bangladesh has now made it clear that it will not allow its soil to be used against India. The assurance, reiterated to India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her first visit abroad on June 26, 2014, came as the External Affairs Minister promised to give an external boost to bilateral relations. Swaraj said New Delhi sought a comprehensive and equitable partnership with Bangladesh for a secure and prosperous South Asia. With the recent developments and the cooperation agreed between India and Bangladesh, a significant improvement can be expected.

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first publicationInformation review in South Asia, Weekly Assessments and Briefings, Vol 12, No 52, 30 June 2014

Veronica Khangchian is a research assistant,Institute for Conflict Management

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What rank is Bangladesh in human trafficking? ›

Bangladesh (Tier 2)

The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Bangladesh remained on Tier 2.

What is the largest hub for human trafficking? ›


Is Bangladesh known for human trafficking? ›

Bangladesh is a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and forced prostitution.

Is human trafficking the second largest criminal industry in the world? ›

Human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world. A 2022 report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Walk Free, and International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimate that in 2021 27.6 million people* were living in modern slavery.

What are the top 10 countries with the highest human trafficking? ›

Pakistan, Indonesia, China, India, and Bangladesh are in the top 10 for countries with the largest number of trafficking victims around the world. India is at the top of the list with 14 million victims, China comes in second with 3.2 million victims, and Pakistan comes in at third with 2.1 million victims.

What are the top 10 countries known for human trafficking? ›

The 10 Worst Countries for Human Trafficking
  • China. ...
  • Eritrea. ...
  • Iran. ...
  • North Korea. ...
  • Russia. ...
  • Sudan. ...
  • Syria. ...
  • Venezuela. Among those trafficked out of Venezuela, 55 percent are adults, 26 percent are young girls and 19 percent are young boys.

What city is number 1 in human trafficking? ›

Los Angeles, CA. California is the worst offender out of all US states when it comes to human trafficking violations.

Where does U.S. rank in human trafficking? ›

Facts About Human Trafficking in the US

The United States ranks as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking, with an estimated 199,000 incidents occurring annually. The number of reported cases, however, is much smaller.

Who is most targeted by human trafficking? ›

But as is the case in many crimes of exploitation and abuse, human traffickers often prey upon members of marginalized communities and other vulnerable individuals, including children in the child welfare system or children in the child welfare system or children who have been involved in the juvenile justice system; ...

Where is human trafficking most common in Asia? ›

Source countries

Thailand is one of the biggest suppliers of forced labor in the Southeast Asia region and around the globe. Most of the forced laborers are brought in from nearby Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Which African countries have high human trafficking? ›

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the highest absolute number of human trafficking victims. Over one-quarter (26.3 percent) of all victims of human trafficking in Africa are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

What are the three most common human trafficking? ›

What Are the Three Types of Human Trafficking? While many forms exist, the three most common types of human trafficking include sex trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage.

Is US the worst country for human trafficking? ›

The United States is again ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking. According to a recently released report by the State Department, the top three nations of origin for victims of human trafficking in 2018 were the United States, Mexico and the Philippines.

What are 5 signs of human trafficking? ›

Human Trafficking Indicators
  • Living with employer.
  • Poor living conditions.
  • Multiple people in cramped space.
  • Inability to speak to individual alone.
  • Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed.
  • Employer is holding identity documents.
  • Signs of physical abuse.
  • Submissive or fearful.

What countries are notorious for human trafficking? ›

Afghanistan, Algeria, Burma (Myanmar), China, Comoros, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan and Venezuela remain classified as Tier 3. They are joined by Guinea Bissau and Malaysia in this year's report.

Is there human trafficking in Russia? ›

Efforts to crack down on human trafficking in Russia focus not only on the men, women, and children who are illegally shipped out of Russia to undergo forced labor and sexual exploitation in other countries, but also those who are illegally brought into Russia from abroad.

How bad is human trafficking in India? ›

Lack of education and awareness makes women and men from low-earning and less privileged backgrounds vulnerable to human trafficking in India while children are easy to prey on. India recognized a 27.7% increase in the cases of trafficking, a rise from 1,714 cases in 2020 to 2,189 cases in 2021.

Is human trafficking legal in Iran? ›

The Iranian government prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through its 2004 Law on Combating Human Trafficking, which prescribes severe penalties, often including death sentences for convicted traffickers.

What rank is the US in human trafficking? ›

The United States ranks as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking, with an estimated 199,000 incidents occurring annually. The number of reported cases, however, is much smaller. There were 11,500 reported cases of human trafficking in the United States in 2019.

Which African countries have the highest human trafficking? ›

  • South Sudan.
  • Sudan.
  • Tanzania.
  • Togo.
  • Tunisia.
  • Uganda.
  • Zambia.
  • Zimbabwe.

What tier is Bangladesh? ›

Bangladesh - Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.

What is the ranking of Pakistan in human trafficking? ›

Pakistan (Tier 2)

The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Pakistan was upgraded to Tier 2.

What is a Tier 1 country in trafficking? ›

Ranking system

These tiers are: Tier 1 countries whose governments fully comply with the TVPA's minimum standards. Tier 2 countries whose governments do not fully comply with all of TVPA's minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

What country has the least human trafficking? ›

Taiwan is ranked as one of the best countries in the latest U.S. Department's report for its efforts against human trafficking.

Who is the biggest consumer of human trafficking? ›

“The United States is the No. 1 consumer of sex worldwide.


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