The Rapid Action Battalion has arrested four members of a Dubai-based human trafficking ring that has duped more than 100 Bangladeshi jobseekers who eventually ended up paying a hefty amount as ransom to their captors.
The arrestees are Tofael Ahmed, 28, from Cumilla’s Debidwar, Md Rasel, 30, from the same area, Akhter Hossain, 38, from Brahmanbaria’s Kasba, and Anisur Rahman, 36, from the district’s Sadar Upazila.
At a press conference on Monday, Lt Col Arif Mohiuddin Ahmed, the commanding officer of the RAB-3, said Tofael, who himself is an expatriate in Dubai, was the ring leader of the trafficking group, while Akhter Hossain was the coordinator.
The trio -- Akhter, Anisur and Rasel -- were serving as the chairman, the managing director, and the manager respectively at a travel agency called City Express, which did not have proper licensing to recruit people for overseas jobs.
The gang extorted as much as Tk 600,000 from each client in the name of airfare, clearance issued by the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, and medical certificates, according to Lt Col Arif.
After that, the clients were asked to be at the airport on a specific day to fly to Dubai and the “necessary” documents, including the passports and visas, were handed to them there.
Once the clients faced the immigration officers at the airport, as Lt Col Arif described, it became clear that the client was issued a visit visa instead of a work visa. At that point, the clients were told that their visas would be converted into work visas once they arrived in Dubai.
As soon as the clients landed in the Gulf nation, their passports were forcibly taken from them after being informed that they could only get their passports back if their families paid a hefty ransom.
The clients were subjected to constant abuse and torture until their families cough up the demanded ransom.
The RAB arrested the four men in Cumilla’s Chauddagram and Dhaka’s Gulshan upon receiving specific complaints from some victims, who were able to return from Dubai after paying up the ransoms.
RAB detailed the ordeals of the victims in a statement.
The victims told the RAB that they were taken hostage by a Bangladeshi expatriate named Jahid after they reached Dubai.
Jahid took away their passports and forced them to work at a fake company for a couple of weeks. At one point, the victims were told that the company was about to go bankrupt and shut down its operation.
Jahid kept pressuring the victims by applying physical and mental torture tactics for more money if they wanted their passports back to return home.
Eventually, the victims paid more than Tk 60,000 each to buy their freedom from the captor.