TIRUPATI: Police and the Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) sleuths seized approximately 180 red sanders logs valued at over Rs 3.5 crore in two separate incidents. They also arrested six persons, including a most-wanted interstate smuggler.
Chittoor Police arrested M Perumal (33), a native of Tiruvannamalai district in Tamil Nadu, who had been smuggling red sanders since 2014. At least 15 cases have been registered against him, including murder, across Andhra Pradesh. Police seized 100 logs valued at Rs 2.50 crore and four vehicles worth Rs 50 lakh from his possession on Wednesday.
In a bid to attach his properties, police have identified agriculture lands, house and other assets in his native village. It has been learnt that Perumal has amassed assets worth Rs 300 crore.
Chittoor SP Y Rishanth Reddy said Perumal and three others - Ajith, Sarath and Vinod - were involved in the case related to transportation of red sanders in an ambulance recently. Chittoor Taluk Police had registered a case against the accused and launched a manhunt.
On a tip-off, a team led by CI K Balaiah conducted vehicular checking at Cherlopalli cross on Tirupati-Bengaluru highway on Wednesday. "Perumal and his associate C Velu, who were heading to Vellore from Tirupati, noticed the police and tried to flee. However, police arrested them," police said.
Stating that Preventive Detention Act (PD) would be invoked against Perumal, the SP said, a manhunt has been launched to apprehend nine others - Tanji, Balaji, Don, Vinod, Sarath, Ramesh, Tanja Parai Kumar, Chinnapayyan and Ajith, a close aide of Perumal - involved in the case. They all hail from various parts of Tamil Nadu.
In another haul, RSASTF sleuths seized 80 red sanders logs, weighing 2 tonnes, worth at least Rs 1 crore. Six smugglers were arrested. Kurnool range DIG and Task Force In-Charge S Senthil Kumar told the media that the task force teams carried out vehicle checkings at Vadamalapeta on Puttur highway on Tuesday and intercepted a car, moving suspiciously, with six persons on Wednesday.
Of the six - four are from Andhra Pradesh and two from Tamil Nadu - were detained. During a review meeting to curb smuggling of the precious wood, the DIG said PD Act would be invoked against all the repeat offenders involved in smuggling red sanders logs. He added history sheets would be opened against them in the local police stations.