TIRUPATI: After a drug scandal involving Telugu film celebrities took the two Telugu Sates by storm, a small-time Tollywood character artiste-turned-movie financier has been accused of involvement in red-sanders smuggling.
The actor who has appeared as a comedian on TV shows is allegedly the most wanted smuggler in AP according to the Red Sanders Anti-smuggling Task Force. The 30-year-old resident of Tirupati is wanted in 14 cases.
According to highly-placed sources in the Task Force, the first case was registered against the artiste whose name has not been revealed yet three years back.
The team came across his names in chargesheets filed at various police stations across the State and upon digging deeper came to know of his Tollywood connection.
A senior official revealed that the man started his career as a junior artiste and began working as a smuggler after developing a powerful network on his own. “He has dealings with international red-sander smugglers based in Bengaluru and Chennai,’’ the official said and added that the accused is very careful not to be seen in public and is often escorted by security guards.
He was, however, recently potted at a wine shop near Tirupati, but escaped before the task force arrived.
The team is now investigating if more people were involved in the racket.
To curb red sanders smuggling activities in Rayalaseema region, police have deployed additional forces on a rotation basis at seven identified forest divisions, which were considered as hot-spots for Red Sanders smuggling.