A covert operation that spanned Kerala and Karnataka resulted in the seizure of 500 kg of marijuana from a container lorry at Attingal in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram early on Sunday.
The State Excise Enforcement Squad (SEES) has arrested a Jharkand resident in connection with the drug bust.
Investigators said they found the narcotics concealed in a hidden cavity in the driver's cabin.
Law enforcers claimed the drug haul was the single biggest seizure of ganja in Kerala in recent times.
They valued the drug at crores of rupees. The detection has also triggered a widespread anti-narcotic investigation in Kerala.
Officials said the SEES had advance information that a Mysore-based gang comprising youth from Kannur and Thrissur would attempt to move marijuana in large quantities into the State from Andhra Pradesh in freight lorries.
The squad also had intelligence that a person would receive the consignment in Attingal. Excise Commissioner S. Aananthakrishnan authorised a 15-member plainclothes squad led by Circle Inspector T. Ani Kumar to track and intercept the drug consignment.
The SEES send officers to Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Another plainclothes team staked out in the vicinity of a resort run by the “cartel” in Mysore.
The squad learned that a "Punjab native" would hand over the drug to one of the cartel members at a remote location in Bhadravathi, an industrial area, in Shivamogga district in Karnataka.
Investigators said the courier had sourced the drug from an outlying village in Paderu region in Andhra Pradesh. By one account, the Mysore-gang had paid Rs 10 lakhs as an advance for the contraband and promised to reimburse the suppliers once the narcotic was peddled in the streets in Kerala. The SEES pegged the street price of marijuana in Kerala at ₹500 for 5 gm.
Investigators said they had tagged the movement of the contraband closely and decided to confiscate it at the point of delivery in Kerala to expose the inter-State procurement and supply network.
Officials said the Mysore cartel's operation could have implications for national security.
The gang had sourced the drug from a locality where Maoists supposedly had sway over ganja cultivators. Investigators said various intelligence reports suggested that a part of the profits from the ganja trade could be ploughed back to armed Maoist irregulars to fund their operations.
The annual ganja harvest season in the outbacks on the AP-Odisha border begins in September. Investigators said they have stepped up vigil on inter-State borders. The detection on Sunday was just the tip of the ice-berg. A large part of drug networks remained hidden and made successful runs without getting exposed even during the lockdown period.