Each child would bring back the equivalent of about $7 a day. The gang kept all but 25 cents of each haul.
The kids received mere pennies to feed themselves.
Were it not for Okkhoy, the enterprise would carry on.
"He's the only witness, the only witness who saw everything with his own eyes," Sohail says. "Without his statement, without him testifying in court, the case cannot be won."
Okkhoy's testimony is crucial for another reason.
The battalion has a reputation for coercing confessions, and human rights groups have long accused it of heavy-handedness in dispensing justice.
The U.S. State Department's latest report on human rights in Bangladesh accuse the battalion of using "unwarranted lethal force," and the government of withholding figures on how many extrajudicial killings it has committed.
Sohail, the battalion commander, sees it differently.
"The human rights activists and our style of work may be different but the goal is the same: to protect the human rights of innocent victims," he says.
The big day
It's the morning of the surgery, and Okkhoy is up before the sun. If he's nervous, he doesn't show it.
He makes faces at the staff, and tries to impress them with the English he's learned since arriving six days ago. "1, 2, 3, 4," he counts, holding up his fingers.
It amazes everyone who meets him.
"For a boy who's been through this kind of trauma, and seen this many doctors, I can't believe he's not scared of hospitals, he's not scared of doctors," Gearhart says.
As he is wheeled into the operating room, Okkhoy flashes a thumbs up.
As he is laid on the table, he chants, "Go, let's go!"
"Be brave," his father urges. "Don't be worried."
"I'm not," he replies. "I have no fear!"
Beep, beep, beep, the machines whir.
It's 9 a.m. and a team of doctors and nurses are preparing for a complicated operation that could take eight to 10 hours.