Farhana Akhtar alias Papia married a drug dealer when she was just a teenager. She learnt the ins and outs of the illicit business pretty soon and expanded its network, especially by recruiting females.
Also known as Rajkumari in her close circle and narcotics fraternity, she established good connections with many influential people for smooth running of the trade.
Gradually, she became a “drug queen" of the city.
She started to move in personal SUVs and keep firearms for personal safety and owned several houses and apartments in the capital's Mohammadpur and Adabor and Shyamoli Housing Society in Shekhertek.
Her racket was initially based in Geneva Camp of Mohammadpur, but she expanded it to different areas in the capital, Chittagong and Cox's Bazar.
On Thursday night, the couple got arrested with 20,000 yaba pills, one gun, five bullets and nine homemade bombs. A special action group from the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of DMP caught them in Lalbagh.
Papia, 25, accused in at least a dozen cases, was arrested on several occasions before this but walked free quite easily. Her husband, 29-year-old Joynal Abedin alias Joy alias Pachu, was wanted in at least 10 cases.
Daughter of Abu Hanif of Aziz Moholla in the capital's Mohammadpur, Papia passed SSC exams from Kisholoy Girls' School and College in the area, said police sources.
She got into a relationship with Pachu while in class-X. Before appearing in the pre-test exams, they got married without the consent of her parents.
Within three months, she came to know that her husband is a drug dealer and joined the business.
According to sources, Pachu first got involved in yaba business in early 2004 when he met a person named Shahid while working in a CD shop in Mohammadpur. As per Shahid's instructions, he used to deliver small packets to different people in exchange of Tk 500.
Initially, Pachu had no idea what was in those packets. He came to know it when he opened one of those out of suspicion and found the pink pills.
He, however, continued the job and also started selling it on his own but on a small scale.
Meantime, he went to Cox's Bazar with his the newly married wife for honeymoon and Shahid accompanied them. There, they met Rafiq, who used to supply yaba to Shahid.
Papia already knew what her husband was doing. On her advice, Pachu now started collecting pills directly from Rafiq.
It was the beginning of the couple's yaba trade together. But after Pachu got arrested by Rab in early 2009, Papia took the helm.
She became the capital's first “drug queen” who started home delivery service for yaba consumers by using young girls as carriers, said Department of Narcotics Control sources.
At the initial stage, the couple worked with yaba godfather Ishtiaq Ahmed.
They, however, got detached from him in 2012. They had to leave their control of Geneva Camp as Ishtiaq gained strength in the area.
Before this latest arrest, the last time law enforcers held Papia was on December 4, 2016. Rab then busted her with yaba and a pistol from Shekhertek with one of her brother-in-law Rahi, who is still in jail.
She, however, secured bail.
Whenever law enforcers started a drive to nab the couple, they took shelter in a local shrine in Joypara area under Dohar Police Station, said CTTC officials yesterday.
During interrogation, they confessed that they provided Tk 60 lakh for the development of the shrine, they added.
The names of both Papia and her husband are on the list of top drug leaders prepared by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Before Rab started all-out anti-narcotics drives across the country on May 4, the two went into hiding, but their yaba trade never stopped, police said.
Following information that a huge quantity of drug will change hands, a team of CTTC rushed to Chowdhury Bazar on 30 Subol Das Lane in Lalbagh around 9:00pm Thursday.
“Sensing our presence, three people including the woman tried to run away. We caught the two but the third managed to flee,” said CTTC Additional Deputy Commissioner Rahmatullah Chowdhury.
After search, police found 5,000 yaba pills in a polyethylene bag attached with Papia's body and another 5,000 pills kept in Pachu's pockets. Officials also recovered a homemade gun and five bullets from Pachu.
With the detainees, police searched the ground floor of an under-construction building on 14 Subol Das Lane and seized another 10,000 pills and nine homemade bombs.
“We are now conducting drive to arrest the third man. His name is Md Qayum, who is 33 years old,” added ADC Rahmatullah.
“The arrestees are top drug dealers and they kept the firearms and explosives for their safety and to avert arrest,” Proloy Kumar Joarder, deputy commissioner of the CTTC, told The Daily Star.
He said three cases under Narcotics Control Act, Arms Act and the Explosives Substances Act were filed against the three.