Investigators are working to track down local human traffickers who along with different transnational syndicates send people abroad alluring them with promises of a better future.
Majority of those people end up in torture cells run by the syndicate members. The criminals then extort their families back in Bangladesh by sending them audio and video clips of the torture.
Law enforcers have already prepared a list of human traffickers to destroy their network, a top official at the Police Headquarters (PHQ) told The Daily Star.
The development came after 26 Bangladeshis were killed by traffickers in Libya on May 28.
Contacted, Mainul Hasan, deputy inspector general of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said they have collected a list of human traffickers from the ministries of home and foreign affairs.
"We are now updating the list after checking it with police records. We also have come to know about more traffickers from local police stations and the relatives of those killed in Libya," he said.
Regarding the number of traffickers, DIG Mainul said, "We are still working on it. The combined list so far has names of over 1,000 people as human traffickers."
He, however, said the number may increase as local police stations at different districts and detective branches also have information on human traffickers.
Sources said the previous police list had 1,042 names.
Analysing complaints on trafficking and intelligence reports, law enforcers have marked 24 districts as "human trafficking zones", said a top police official.
The districts are Cox's Bazar, Sunamganj, Habiganj, Kishoreganj, Pabna, Sirajganj, Narsingdi, Narayanganj, Gopalganj, Faridpur, Bandarban, Brahmanbaria, Shariatpur, Jashore, Satkhira, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Bagerhat, Jhenidah, Chandpur, Chattogram, Cumilla, Pirojpur and Bhola, said the official, requested anonymity.
The official further said Cox's Bazar is a "major trafficking zone" and 66 of the listed traffickers are based in the district alone.
MANY UNDER WATCH
According to PHQ database, at least 6,106 people were arrested between 2013 and 2018 across the country for their alleged involvement in human trafficking.
"We have already started our work to keep an eye on their current status. Many of them have come out of jail … The move is aimed at stopping them committing the crime again," DIG Shaikh Nazmul Alam of the CID told The Daily Star.
Sources also said many of those arrestees walked out of jail on bail and are now working as brokers of different transnational human trafficking gangs.
Another top police official said registrations of around 100 recruiting agencies, which send people abroad, were cancelled for their alleged links with trafficking. "We are working to confirm their involvement," the official said.
MASTERMIND UNDER SCANNER
So far, 26 cases have been filed against 300 people with different police stations following the killing of the 26 Bangladeshis in Libya.
Sixty-seven people have so far been arrested, and of them, 36, including an employee of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, were arrested by the CID.
Of the arrestees, 20 have already given confessional statements in court, said sources.
Imtiaz Ahmed, DIG (organised crime) of the CID, told this newspaper that they were doing their best to arrest the masterminds, but many of the suspects were out of the country.
"Most of the traffickers went into hiding and are on alert after we launched a drive against traffickers. But we have already started updating their list and drives are underway to arrest them," he said, adding that they were trying to seek Interpol's support in this regard.
"The good news is recently we have been able to track down the location of a top mastermind of the trafficking syndicates. The mastermind is already under watch," he said.
CID officials also said the godfather of the syndicate has been trafficking young girls to different dance bars and hotels in Dubai since 2018. He owns some five hotels in Dubai.
The officials declined to share further information on the mastermind for the sake of investigation.
Besides, the CID has taken steps to seize properties of the criminals who are on the run.
"We have already completed an investigation against three traffickers. We will file cases against them soon," added DIG Imtiaz.