TIRUPATI: Tirupati police seized 275 red sanders worth Rs 4.4 crore and arrested five inter-state smugglers involved in the illegal transportation of the logs at Pedda Pannangadu check post along the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border on NH-16 in Sullurpeta circle limits on Monday. In fact, this is one of the biggest red sanders seizures in recent times in the district.
The arrested individuals were identified as M Murugan, Hemant Kumar, S Ravi, R Vimal, and G Surender, all hailing from various parts of Tamil Nadu.
Tirupati Superintendent of Police (SP), P Parameshwara Reddy, said that the operation was conducted under the supervision of Naidupeta Sub-Division Police Officer (SDPO) B Rajagopal Reddy. The crackdown on the smugglers and the seizure was possible through the efforts of police personnel at the Pedda Pannangadu check post.
The authorities confiscated a total of 275 red sanders, weighing a staggering 5,388 kg, estimated to be around Rs 4.31 crore. Additionally, two four-wheelers worth Rs 18 lakh and six cell phones were recovered during the operation, bringing the total worth of the seized items to Rs 4.49 crore.
Efforts underway to nab mastermind, accomplices’
“The smugglers had procured the red sanders from Tirupati and had stored the logs in the godowns of local smugglers in Tamil Nadu. They concealed the logs with loads of turmeric powder and transported them to West Bengal to avoid suspicion,” the SP explained. He added that efforts were underway to identify the mastermind behind the crime and any potential local accomplices behind the extensive smuggling operation. According to the police, Murugan and Hemant Kumar are habitual offenders.
Murugan has 17 red sandalwood smuggling cases registered against him, and Hemant Kumar had three cases under his name. Preventive Detention (PD) Act was invoked against Murugan earlier. “We are investigating whether the other suspects have cases registered against them in the neighbouring districts or States,’’ said Parameswara Reddy.