VELLORE: After evading arrest for more than three weeks, kingpin of a red sanders smuggling racket P Saravanan of Vellore surrendered before the chief judicial magistrate court in Kancheepuram on Thursday.
He was remanded to judicial custody and lodged in the Vellore Central Prison for Men. However, within 15 minutes after being lodged in the prison, he was shifted to Puzhal Central Prison-II, citing administration reasons.
The district police had launched a manhunt for Saravanan (31), a notorious red sanders smuggler of Ramasamy Street in Vasanthapuram, after they stumbled upon a huge haul of cash and jewels from his relative and folk artist Mohanambal’s (54) rented house recently.
Acting on a tip-off, a police team had conducted a raid in the house in Tharapadavedu on May 25. They seized `4.04 crore and 73 sovereigns of gold ornaments from the house. The inquiry disclosed that Saravanan, Mohanambal and their family members had indulged in the smuggling of red sanders. “They are big players in this multi-crore illegal trade of smuggling the precious woods from Andhra Pradesh to Chennai and other areas,” said a police officer privy to the investigation.
The district police had constituted 10 special teams to track down Saravanan, his mother Nirmala and her sister Mohanambal and their relatives, who had disappeared. The police team were sent to Bangalore, Chittoor in AP, Chennai, Tirunelveli, Villupuram, Mittapalli and neighbouring villages in Krishnagiri district, Palayamkottai, Pochapalli and Ulundurpet, to find Saravanan and others.
In the meantime, police arrested Saravanan’s wife Devibala (22) on May 30 in Vellore. She was remanded in the Special Prison for Women for her involvement in red sander smuggling. Unable to obtain anticipatory bail from the Madras High Court, Mohanambal and her sister Nirmala had surrendered before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Judicial Magistrate Court - IV in Vellore on June 7.
“We have collected sufficient evidence to prove that Saravanan and his relatives are involved in red sander smuggling. We have also interrogated a DMK functionary, Babu of Anaicut, for his involvement in the illegal activity,” said a police officer.
He added that another prime accused and member of the red sander smuggling network, Polur Selvam, was lodged in the Prison in Tirupathi.
“We will obtain the custody of Saravanan for inquiry within a day or two. We hope he has vital information that will lead to a major crackdown on the multi-core international illegal business,” further said the officer.
The district police have intensified their search to nab a few others involved in the case.