200 policemen to nab two smugglers

The accused: Syed Riyaz and his son Syed Sher Ali

The accused: Syed Riyaz and his son Syed Sher Ali   | Photo Credit: the hindu


The duo are suspected kingpins of sandalwood smuggling in south India

Around 200 police personnel from the Central Division on Saturday raided a colony in Kattigenahalli near Maalur in Hosakote and arrested a man and his son who are allegedly smugglers of sandalwood. They recovered nine kg of sandalwood, ₹35 lakh in cash, 350 gm of gold and several four-wheelers from them.

Police claim that the two men — Syed Riyaz, 49, and his son Syed Sher Ali, 28 — are the main ‘receivers’ of sandalwood and other expensive woods for the entire south India covering the three States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The duo never ventured outside Kattigenahalli as the villagers allegedly protected them from the police. Whenever the police arrived in the village to arrest them, residents would gather in large numbers. Some would climb rooftops to pelt stones at the police, said a source.

A fortnight ago, three sub-inspectors and a team of constables attached to Malur police station, who went to arrest Riyaz and Sher Ali, were pelted with stones and chased out of the village.

“The entire village is a safe house for storing stolen sandalwood and red sanders. Everyone in the village knows about it,” a senior police officer said.

After the initial setback, two special teams were formed under the leadership of D. Devaraju, DCP Central Division, and Abdul Ahad, DCP, Whitefield Division. Around 200 police personnel were mobilised. After reaching the village, one team of policemen, who were armed with pump guns, took positions on rooftops and kept a watch on all terraces in the area.

Another team surrounded the houses of the duo. Riyaz’s family members refused to open the door, said the police who forced their way inside.

The duo allegedly sold sandalwood to oil and soap companies based in Tumakuru and Chikkmagaluru.

Devaraju said, “We recovered a notebook in which they maintained a list, including mobile numbers, of people from whom they received sandalwood. At least four days in each week, the duo received 100 kg of sandalwood per day. Going by the lists they have maintained, this has been the case since 2010.”

“We have taken up a case under appropriate sections of the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA). We will also prosecute the companies who were dealing with these smugglers. We also came to know that a global multi-level marketing corporation has ordered 500 tonnes of Red Sanders from this village. We have summoned the company representative for questioning,” the DCP added.

How the case was cracked

The Cubbon Park police learnt of the accused while investigating the theft of a sandalwood tree from Bishop Cotton’s Girls School on St. Mark’s Road in November last year. They had arrested a gang that was run by the father and son duo.

While questioning the gang members, the police learned that they hired some men from Yercaud in Tamil Nadu and paid them ₹15,000 each for conducting a recee in the city, cutting sandalwood trees and transporting them to Bagaluru.

Their accommodation and other logistics, such as vehicles, were taken care of by Riyaz and Sher Ali, said the police. “The accused had over a dozen fake number plates. They came up with the numbers after looking up online for cars being offered for sale,” said a police officer.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2019 9:00:14 PM |

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