Persistence helps police bust inter-State ganja racket

When the Ernakulam Rural police seized nearly 150 kg of ganja and arrested three in two separate operations at Angamaly and the nearby Kalloorkad in November last, it appeared as a one-off haul notwithstanding the volume involved.

But to the credit of the police, they did not stop the probe with the seizure, which is usually the norm, but did a meticulous follow-up investigation for which District Police Chief (Ernakulam Rural) K. Karthik formed a special investigation team (SIT). Four months down the line that persistence stands vindicated, as a ganja smuggling racket based at Paderu, a tribal village in Andhra Pradesh with suspected Maoist presence, remains busted and 10 persons arrested so far with more arrests likely.

“The racket has a network of Malayali agents at Paderu and nearby areas to link up with wholesale dealers from Kerala who were met at chosen points along highways. Different quality samples priced between ₹1,500 and ₹5,000 were shown during these highway meetings, deals were finalised, and then the agents left with vehicles of their clients before returning them with the consignments in meticulous packages of 2-2.50kg,” said sources associated with the probe.

Anywhere between 100 kg and 150kg were smuggled in a single trip, and multiple trips were undertaken in a single month for which an expert driver was also engaged. He is among those who were arrested. The parties involved were careful not to use the same vehicles or mobile numbers for the deals.

The consignments were smuggled in through surreptitious routes avoiding check posts and transported mainly to Idukki. One such consignment was intercepted by the police at Angamaly. From Idukki, it was distributed across the State in smaller lots at many folds their purchase price. The lots less than 1 kg meant that even if caught, pedlars were able to secure bail, since as per the NDPS Act, only seizures in excess of 1 kg alone were non-bailable.

“The racket is suspected to have been active for a few years now, and going by the statements of the arrested, thousands of kilograms of ganja have been smuggled to various States, including Kerala. Even the 40 kg of the narcotic seized from a rented house at Kalloorkkad was said to be the balance from an original consignment in excess of 100 kg,” sources said.

The racket engaged a person solely as a go-between for financial transactions, so that even if one of the parties got caught, the money trail was not exposed. The SIT had also arrested this intermediary through whose bank account money changed hands.

The ever-increasing demand for ganja among migrant workers and youth kept the trade thriving, sources said.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 2:41:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/persistence-helps-police-bust-inter-state-ganja-racket/article34193796.ece

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