The gang had dumped the logs along with plastic waste in a rented godown
The police and forest officials busted the biggest ever racket of red sanders smugglers in Kurnool district on Monday. In all, 2,000 logs weighing about 50 tonne were seized, which was stocked in an abandoned godown near Veldurthi town. The value of the stock was estimated at Rs. 50 lakh in Indian market and Rs. 5 crore in the international market.
The police and forest officials were tipped off about the racket a week ago which put them on alert.
The special teams were on the vigil around Dhone which led to seizure of a truck carrying 5.7 tonne of wood worth Rs. 28 lakh on February 28.
Following the investigation, the police zeroed in at a red sanders dump where the logs were concealed under plastic waste. The officials seized 2,000 logs each weighing 25 kg.
According to information, the precious wood was smuggled out of Veligonda reserve forest falling under Srikalahasti and Nellore district. This is considered as the biggest catch from Kurnool district in the last ten years.
Superintendent of Police B. Raghurami Reddy told The Hindu that they were investigating the supply chain right from the source to the end-user.
The police arrested three persons identified as Rambabu, Venkata Ramana and Somasundaram.
Also, the investigation teams identified Sudharsan Reddy, Sivakota Reddy of Nellore and Gangi Reddy of Kadapa who were involved in the racket.
In Kurnool district, Srinivasa Reddy and Ramesh Reddy were running the racket. Divisional Forest Officer P. Ramakrishna said a big network of smugglers was operating behind such activities.
The gang chose a secluded place like Veldurthi as the transit point where the smuggled red sanders could be dumped.
The gang hired the godown for a monthly rent of Rs.14,500 to stock the logs along with the plastic waste collected from the streets.
The police interrogated the godown owner, T.V.S. Ramesh and collected the details of the persons who hired the shed.
According to sources, the gang operated in a precise manner monitoring the movement of the vehicle carrying the logs.
The vehicles were stopped at every 20 kilometres to monitor the movement of police and forest officials, the police said.