KOCHI: If the latest police bust is any indication, it's not just ganja that is ringing the cash chest of smugglers. Organised rackets have been bringing tonnes of banned tobacco products to Ernakulam district earning them a profit of Rs 30 to Rs 50 lakh per week.
In a major haul, the rural police busted a racket involved in smuggling tobacco products at Angamaly and arrested two persons. The duo was transporting the contraband concealed in 78 sacks in a pick-up truck.
Police said that 58,500 packets of Hans (chewable tobacco) were concealed in the sacks. Abdul Jabbar (49) and Abdul Rasheed (56) of Marampilly, near Aluva, were arrested in a search carried out by the police on the national highway following a tip-off received by Ernakulam Rural SP K Karthick. A team led by Angamaly Inspector Soni Mathai made the arrest.
Police said the smugglers sell the contraband to the migrant workers in the district. "It is learned that they procure the banned tobacco products from Bengaluru and bring them to Palakkad. From there they shift the load to other vehicles that transport vegetables or fruits," said an officer involved in the raid.
A special drive by the rural police to curb the drug menace point to the spike in the sales of illicit tobacco products. Fifty-two cases were registered during the three-day special drive. While eight cases were registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 14 cases were under the Excise Act.
Thirty cases were for the sale of banned tobacco products. Police said the arrested duo has confessed to the crime. They bought the tobacco products for Rs 8 lakh and made a profit of Rs 30 lakh selling them to the migrant workers at Perumbavoor. "We are verifying the background of the accused. The drive will continue in the coming days," said Karthick.
Police said the drive was carried out to curb the huge inflow of drugs and tobacco products into the district. Searches are continuing in the jurisdictions of all the 34 police stations under the rural police.
The police have put those involved in drug and illicit liquor sales under surveillance too. Besides, the cyber cell and the cyber police station have been directed to monitor whether such transactions are taking place through social media.