KADAPA: Police on Thursday night arrested 72 smugglers and seized 77 logs weighing 1.5 tonnes worth Rs 1 crore from them.
Pulivendula ASP Anburajan said the smugglers were disguised as a wedding party. and the bus in which they were travelling, was decorated with flowers. After reaching Chinnamandem village in Kadapa, where a special police team was conducting checks, the bus driver, Ramesh, allegedly tried to escape. To slow down vehicles, a few drums were placed on the road. But the bus hit all the drums and moved ahead. After chasing the bus for a few kilometres, police intercepted it and inquired the occupants.
“We found them behaving in a suspicious manner. Some elders in the bus tried to make us believe that they were going to a wedding,” Anburajan said.
While verifying their belongings, police found some tools used for cutting wood. A total of 30 woodcutting blades, 27 axes, one rice bag, water bottles and one weighing machine were found under the seats, he said.
A total of 77 logs stored in the forest area of Palamaneru of Chittoor district were also being transported in the bus, he said. All the 72 occupants were arrested and the logs seized along with the bus. All the smugglers were from Salem. It is learnt that among the 72 smugglers, 20 were said to be involved in the smuggling activity that took place near Srivari Mettu in Tirupati on April 7, where 20 woodcutters were killed in an encounter.