VISAKHAPATNAM: With the authorities cracking the whip on the illegal ganja trade in Visakhapatnam Agency, the smugglers are exploring new routes to shift the contraband to various destinations, away from the watchful eyes of the enforcement agencies. Interior routes amid the dense forest leading to Odisha and Vizianagaram from the Agency are said to have become the ‘safe paths’ for the smugglers. Police also suspect that the hemp cultivation has started in some areas of Srikakulam district too.
According to sources, the smugglers are now using new routes via Odisha and Vizianagaram areas from Visakhapatnam Agency, instead of the regular Anakapalle and Tuni as a number of bids to ferry the contraband have been foiled by the police and excise officials, along with arrests of the couriers and seizure of the hemp.
“The smugglers use the same route to reach Vizianagaram and then the National Highway from where they can leave for Vijayawada, Telangana and Karnataka. Once they reach the NH, it’s almost impossible to nab them as thousands of vehicles ply on the road,” said a senior police officer from Prohibition and Excise (Enforcement) wing from Visakhapatnam, adding that after reaching NH, the smugglers could use train, bus or even lorry to smuggle the hemp.
Admitting that the smugglers are using new routes, assistant commissioner for Prohibition and Excise (Enforcement) Wing SVVN Babji Rao said, “Yes, some smugglers are now using the Vizianagaram route to escape police vigil. However, we are keeping a close watch on that route. Some 10 days ago, we have recovered 1,000 kg hemp from a gang.”
The Vizag Rural Police and Excise officials have reportedly noted down more than 20 routes connecting with the NH through which the hemp could be smuggled out of the Agency. Anakapalle, Tuni and a few other plain areas are said to be the meeting points of the smugglers. “After intensified vigilance in the last one year, the local smugglers are not taking any risk now. In the past, they used to supply the weed to the plains. But now, they are asking the clients to send their men directly to the Agency. And that is why the smugglers are finding new routes,” said another police officer from the Agency.
How ganja is shifted
Before ferrying ganja by trains, buses and lorries, the smugglers ensure that the contraband is processed so that it doesn’t smell. Sources said that after tight packing, the smugglers put a layer of dry cow dung or red chilli to prevent the chances of the hemp getting detected. “Smugglers use trains rather than buses to smuggle the hemp in bags which they keep away from their seat, but keep eyes on the baggage,” said SVVN Babji Rao, assistant commissioner for Prohibition and Excise (Enforcement)