HYDERABAD: The spotlight is as much on red sanders ‘smugglers’ as on the police in the wake of the recent Seshachalam encounter.
Even as the controversy over whether woodcutters killed in the forest were smugglers rages on, a cursory glance at the police records — on the real brains behind the red sanders smuggling — reveals a few shocking facts.
Take the case of Laxman, a notorious smuggler currently behind bars in the Rajahmundry jail. A Tamil and a native of Moreh in Manipur, he had migrated to Chennai years back to work as a ‘coolie’.
Fast forward to 2013. He was found to be wearing shirts, which cost nothing less than `25,000 each, driving a BMW one day, Mercedes the other day and several SUVs — in fact, whatever caught his fancy. He also had a live-in partner, a Bengali model, in Kolkata. He was referred to, in his rogue circles, as ‘Jr Veerappan’ and ‘Don.’ His luck ran out in July, 2013 when the police finally nabbed him.
His ancestors had settled in Burma but later, due to local problems, they migrated to Manipur along with some 20,000 Tamil families. While working as a coolie in Chennai, Laxman came in contact with small-time smugglers and within no time, learnt the tricks of the trade. By 2013, he had a gang of at least 40 members and made about `100 crore through red sanders smuggling. The AP police tracked him in Kolkata where he was always seen in the company of models and heroines and surrounded by a battery of private security personnel. He has been booked for 24 offences.
Laxman is not alone. There are others who made a killing in red sanders smuggling. But the one who comes close to the ‘Don’ is Moosa, a former inspector of the Tamil Nadu police. Moosa was dismissed from service and arrested. But he is now out on bail. A close friend of Shahul Hameed of Dubai, he ran the smuggling racket with his pal’s help. ‘’Moosa has several contacts in the TN police and is also an adviser to big smugglers. He is an accused in the Shankararaman murder case too and often visits Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai to meet red sanders smugglers,’’ police said.
According to the AP police, Moosa has been in the business for 15 years. He is the main receiver in Chennai and transports the logs to China via Dubai. It is estimated that he earned more than `50 crore.
At the time of his arrest last year, Moosa ran into a house when a police team spotted him, and began shouting that he was being kidnapped!