KADAPA:In a major breakthrough, the Kadapa police have seized red sanders logs worth Rs 9 crore and arrested six smugglers, including the notorious Bodde Venkataramana who has international smuggling links.
Superintendent of Police Navin Gulati told reporters here on Monday that Venkataramana (36) and five others were nabbed near Brahmaiah Petrol pump on the Vontimitta-Kadapa road while they were transporting 60 logs in a pickup truck. The police had to chase the vehicle and intercept it as the driver tried to speed away on noticing the cops. Besides Venkataramana, mestri Bodde Srinivasulu and four coolies — Chandra Naik, M Srinu Naik, N Ramana and Somaiah — were caught. All the accused hail from various villages in Vontimitta mandal.
Police seized the logs along with the truck. On the information provided by Venkataramana, police seized another 100 red sanders logs dumped at Naravakatipalle in Vontimitta mandal. The entire booty weighed about 4.5 tonne. The SP said Venkataramana from Patrapalle village had teamed up with Jangala Sivashankar and Veerabhadraiah from Gandlapalle village to smuggle the wood for easy money.
He also had ties with smugglers Sudarshan from Nellore and Praveen from Tirupati besides Bengaluru-based international smuggler Katiganahalli Fiaz.
So far, Venkataramana had transported 20 lorry loads of red sanders to Sivashankar, Praveen and Sudarshan and four loads to Fiaz. Jangala Sivashanker used to provide the vehicles, the SP said. All these smugglers used to instruct the coolies not to hesitate to even kill the police and forest staff coming in their way. Venkataramana used to pay Rs 150 and Rs 200 each to the coolies and mestri respectively for each kg of the red sanders they brought.
He used to sell a tonne of logs to smugglers at Rs 13.50 lakh. He was involved in 14 cases under police and forest departments. The illegal assets of Venkataramana identified by the police so far include Rs 1.37 crore worth of buildings and house sites in Tirupati, Kadapa and Nandalur, Rs 20 lakh worth SUVs and Rs 60 lakh worth gold ornaments. The constant vigil and combing operations helped reduce red sanders smuggling to a large extent, the SP claimed but added that some coolies, in the guise of pilgrims, were still managing to enter the forest.
Steps were on to bring the red sanders smuggler who was caught by the Interpol in Mauritius to the district at the earliest, he said, referring to one Gangi Reddy.