VELLORE/CHITTOOR : In a country-wide crackdown on kingpins and major players of the multi-crore international red sander smuggling racket, which thrives in the thick forests of Seshachalam in Tirupathi hills, the Andhra police have tracked down and arrested nine notorious smugglers, including three from Chennai, in the last two months.
Those from Chennai include Saravanan (42) of Perambur, Mohammed Rafiq (43) of T Nagar and Lakshmanan (38) of Mannady. “Lakshmanan is one of the four international smugglers arrested. He had settled in Kolkata with his family to carry out his illegal activities,” a highly-placed police official said. International smugglers Vikram (40) of Delhi, Riyaz Ali Khan (40) of Bangalore and Hameed Khan (47) of Bangalore are under preventive detention along with their major suppliers Oil Ramesh (40) and Lakshman Naik (42) of Chittoor in Andhra, and Asif Ali Khan (38) of Bangalore. They were arrested in the last two months from different parts of the country by a special police team, which was constituted by then SP of Chittoor Ramakrishnan.
“Consistent efforts of the special team resulted in the arrest of the top dogs of the illegal business, which has been causing irreversible ecological damage to our State,” said a senior police officer from Andhra Pradesh. Nearly 18 cases of red sander smuggling have been filed against each of the arrested. They had reportedly been operating from metros. “Tonnes of red sander logs have been smuggled from Chennai (Port) and Kolkata to Dubai, China, Burma and other Asian countries,” an official said.
The Andhra police have detained the accused under the Andhra Pradesh Prevention of Dangerous Activists Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land Grabber Act, 1986. They were lodged at the Central Prison in Rajahmundry on Sunday. Meanwhile, the police arrested two more smugglers and seized `37 lakh cash and a BMW car.