Narcotics Department bringing courier services under scanner
The government wants drug detection devices in courier offices, and greater monitoring of couriers and couriers, and more
The Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) is planning to place courier services under strict supervision because the couriers are being used to traffic illegal drugs.
Actions that are to be taken to be taken by DNC includes the setting up of modern-day drugs detection devices in courier offices as well as CCTVs at counters at bookings in addition to regular renewals of licenses for couriers.
It's worth noting that DNC recently released an Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for courier services.
As per the SOP the senders will be obliged to provide photos as well as names and addresses when arrangements for parcels. Courier offices are required to note the national identity cards (NID) details for both the sender and the recipient, and then verify the data by comparing it to the NID database of the Election Commission.
The courier offices should also keep CCTV recordings from booking centres for a period of one month. In addition, they must notifying suspect packages to police authorities immediately after they're spotted.
DNC sources claimed that they had been discussing the SOP with courier companies. It may take some time to allow to allow the SOP in full implementation. DNC is satisfied with the minimum of the conditions and terms are in place.
Some courier companies stated that certain clauses and conditions of the SOP were not appropriate currently.
"In Particular, setup of drugs detection devices will be a challenge. They're expensive. There aren't all couriers with Tk10 lakhs to invest in an office machine," said a leader of the Courier Services Association of Bangladesh (CSAB) who requested anonymity.
In the past year it was reported that the DNC brought 20 cases of trafficking in drugs using courier services. When investigating the cases it became clear that certain employees of the courier had assisted in the drug smugglers.
Of the 20 cases of which 17 were filed, 17 involved the yaba pills that were seized.
"We can only identify consignments when we receive warnings. In other cases thousands of parcels are passed through courier services without being scrutinized. We don't know what percentage of them contain drug-related substances," a high ranking official from Chittagong's DNC in Chittagong informed Dhaka Tribune.
Can the SOP be of help?
DNC officials stated that the SOP was an initial step. They acknowledged that it could be difficult to implement all the conditions and terms mentioned in the SOP in a short time, but the implementation of the majority of them would aid in tackling drug trafficking.
"We have contacted local courier companies to begin with the SOP. We attended a meeting with them last week, during which all issues were addressed in depth," said Kusum Dewan director of security and operations at DNC.
Utilizing the election commission's NID database could aid in the identification of both senders and recipients, he said.
"It could be as this: companies will pay for each record in the database. Both the EC and the companies will reap the benefits," the DNC director stated. "We have sent the proposal to the government entities concerned."
According to a representative of the DNC The DNC has indicated an interest in SOP because they don't want to be tied to drug trafficking.
"We can't open packages. Agents and booking offices don't have scanners. They are dependent on physical inspection and this method isn't efficient," said Mozammel Haque Lalu, who is the owner of Karatoa Courier.
The owner and others have requested government support in the purchase of machine to detect drugs.
"We have asked the government to cut taxes on importing things like drug detection machines, scanners and CCTV cameras for us," said Hafizur Rahman Pulok the head of CSAB.
A drug detection system is a single expense that can reach Tk8 millions, he added.