The arrest of a Tamil Nadu Kurnool-based lorry driver and seizure of 1.5 tonnes of red sanders logs worth over Indian Rs. 2 crore in the international market by the Tamil Nadu CID (Organised Crime) police in Ramanathapuram district (TN) on Monday night threw fresh light on the links of the red sanders smuggling mafia to Sri Lanka.
A parcel van with A.P. registration was about to reach a coastal village in Ramanathapuram district, when the CID police led by inspector Rajesh intercepted it and seized the material, besides arresting its driver Balakrishnudu (35) of Kallur locality of Kurnool district. The official contacted the AP State Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (APSRSASTF) officials in Tirupati and passed on the information regarding the seizure of the contraband material.
During interrogation, the T.N. police got information that it was a regular feature that some members of the red sanders smuggling network were operating between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu through Karnataka. Ramanathapuram, the district close to the Sri Lankan coast, remained the ideal destination for the smugglers. The agents would pick up the stocks and facilitate smuggling of the precious wood to some specified locations along the Sri Lanka’s coast. Small ferries and fishing boats are said to be deployed to finish the deals.
In the present case, Balakrishnudu had initially reached Tuticorin to unload the stock before reloading it for Sri Lanka destination. However, due to Coast Guard surveillance he had to reach Ramanathapuram, where he was apprehended. The logs were skilfully arranged beneath the onion bags to avoid detection at inter-State checkposts.
Speaking to The Hindu, Circle-Inspector (Organised Crime-TNCID) Rajesh said the consignment was set to reach Sri Lanka. “Though it is for the first time that we have made seizures of the red sanders in this case, we have information that regularly the goods [logs] would be coming to various locations in Ramanathapuram district,” he said. The Task Force chief Inspector General of Police M. Kantha Rao on receiving information from the TN police directed a team of senior police personnel to follow-up the matter and track the possible exit routes from A.P. towards T.N. coastal districts.
“The network’s links with Sri Lanka will be further probed. On a number of occasions, the Task Force tracked the vehicles with red sanders logs sneaking into Tamil Nadu, and successfully brought back the seized logs to our godowns,” he said.