Rapid Action Battalion yesterday detained 37 people including eight Rohingyas at a hotel in Cox's Bazar when they were about to start for Malaysia illegally “on a motorboat”.
Three middlemen involved in the planning of the journey -- Md Kamal, Abdul Gaffar and hotel manager Nurul Alam -- have also been held, said Rab-7 Camp Leader Major Sarwar-e-Alam.
Acting on a tip-off, a Rab team raided hotel Mohammadia Resort in Kolatoli area in the city around 1:00am and held them there, said the major.
The detainees had been staying in three rooms at the hotel since mid-January, the major said.
They are all job seekers from Bogra, Satkhira, Jessore, Kushtia, Chittagong and Cox's Bazar.
Ataur Rahman, one of the victims from Bogra, said he was contacted by a local broker named Hashem, who promised him a well-paid job in Malaysia in exchange for Tk 2.2 lakh.
The victims were waiting for a call from a person known only as Alam. He was supposed to call and let them know the boat was ready, said the major.
One after another, the job seekers had all been directed to the hotel solely by phone, the Rab official quoted the hotel manager as saying.
At the hotel on Saturday, the three brokers snatched their mobile phones and money.
Each of the the job seekers paid the brokers Tk 10,000 to 25,000.
The elite force handed over the middlemen and the Rohingyas to Cox's Bazar Police Station yesterday afternoon. The rest were handed over to Youth Power in Social Action, an organisation that works against human trafficking, that will arrange their return home.
Rab-7 has detained 73 people including five brokers since July last year in Cox's Bazar, according to the force's data.