VISAKHAPATNAM: LACK of employment and fascination for bikes and smart phones are making a number of youth in Visakhapatnam agency falling prey to the ganja smugglers. The youngsters are lured by the illicit traders to be the pilots for smuggling activities which has been on the rise. The youth are paid not less than `40,000 a month and also given bikes and smart phones for being a pilot. And their duty is just to ride ahead the vehicle transporting the contraband to send alerts about the presence of police en route.
The excise officials say that almost 60 to 70 per cent of the youngsters in a few mandals of the agency are resorting to these activities to spin easy money.
According to police sources, there is a huge demand for pilots for the trade in the agency. The ganja gangs are led by the seniors in the trade who are paid fancy amounts, apart from other comforts. The kingpin decides on the smuggling activity, one of the agents (person involved in the ganja trade) meets or calls the leader of the gang to engage someone as pilot. It is learnt that youth in the village request the gang coordinator to allow them in their next trip, and the coordinator chooses the bast one among the lot for the job. “The greenhorns in the trade receive around `10,000 to `20,000 per trip, while the experienced ones receive somewhere between `20,000 and `30,000. A gang coordinator receives around `30,000 per month,” say police officials.
Police sources also said that these gangs won’t have any contact with the kingpins. The gangs know all short cuts and tricks to evade police. Each gang has separate rates for transporting the weed and it also depends on the quantity being smuggled. Moreover, there are some ganja kingpins, who offer around `30,000 to `40,000 to youngsters if the hemp quantity is huge.
“There are some big fish, who run the trade in the agency and maintain such gangs in local villages for which they pay monthly remuneration. Due to unemployment, youngsters are falling for easy money,” said Inspector of Task Force team of Prohibition and Excise K Papi Naidu. A senior police officer said that apart from mobiles, bikes, the kingpins also try to bail out the smugglers in case of arrest.
Out of the 11 mandals in Visakhapatnam agency, G.K.Veedhi mandal is considered to be the hub of such gangs, followed by G. Madugula and Pedabayalu mandals.
“On a visit to some interior areas, we see many unemployed youngsters riding expensive bikes. The kingpins provide bikes, smart phones and money. In many villages, 60 to 70 per cent of the youngsters in four or five villages are involved in such crimes,” said a senior police officer.
The rural police along with prohibition and excise staff said that they had been conducting awareness camps to educate youth about the legal action taken against them for their involvement. “Very recently, we have conducted a session over the ganja smuggling issue. Hundreds of tribal youth took part in it. Skill development programmes are also being planned for the youth,” said an officer from the department of prohibition and excise.