The Prohibition Enforcement Wing (PEW) of Chengalpattu district, in a month-long operation, busted an inter-State criminal network, which regularly smuggled rectified spirit from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, through middlemen in Hyderabad and Chennai and distributed it in Chengalpattu, Pollachi, Tiruvannamalai, Kerala and Puducherry.
Chengalpattu District Superintendent of Police V.V. Sai Praneeth told The Hindu on Thursday that 18 persons, including kingpins in the illegal trade, have been arrested and 15,000 litres of spirit worth over ₹2.5 crore seized.
Under the Tamilnadu Prohibition Act and Tamilnadu Rectified Spirit Rules, no person or institution shall possess, use, sell, transport or import rectified spirit without licence. The rectified spirit is often illegally smuggled from industrial units and distributed for consumption as illicit liquor.
Following a tip-off, the officers of PEW, Chengalpattu, intercepted a truck carrying haystacks near Madurantakam on August 17. On searching the vehicle, the police found 175 plastic cans, each containing33 litres of rectified spirit. Driver and owner of the vehicle V. Megavannan, 46, of Madurantakam, was arrested.
Upon his interrogation, the police came to know that he had been transporting spirit from an industrial unit in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, through Hyderabad, which was facilitated by C. Kishore, 32, of Pattabiram. The police nabbed Kishore and based on his confession, arrested S. Dhanasekar, 50, of Chengalpattu, who runs a hotel. Dhanasekar was involved in distribution of illicit liquor and rectified spirit in Chengalpattu, Tiruvannamalai and Pollachi districts.
Dhanasekar reportedly told the police during interrogation that he had smuggled rectified spirit six times in the last eight months with the help of Bogala Sureshkumar, 45, of Malkajguri district in Telangana. A police team travelled in his lorry, which picked up a consignment of rectified spirit from Gurmeet Singh Sason, 66, in Bhopal.
Role of hawala agent
A police officer said: “Meghavannan had taken his lorry to Bhopal and Suresh Kumar joined him on the way. They left the lorry with the key at a secluded place on roadside mentioned by Gurmeet Singh Sason. Gurmeet Singh’s henchmen took the lorry and loaded the rectified spirit from an undisclosed location. Later, they left the vehicle in another place and called Meghavannan and Suresh Kumar informing them of the location of the lorry and the key. All transactions were done through hawala agent from Chennai to Bhopal.”
The police arrested 18 persons, including Gurmeet Singh, Dhanasekar, and Suresh, from Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Nellore and Karnataka.
“We have sent four teams to Nellore, Hyderabad, Bhopal and other places. Not stopping with the seizure and arresting a few, we wanted to go after the kingpin who was financing this. We were able to trace back-endand forward links and we have secured all those people,” Mr. Praneeth said.
The Superintendent of Police said: “Unless the entire storage, transportation and production is regularised or watched closer, there can be leaks. In the process, we picked up people from various States. Through this operation, we want to convey a message that wherever it [illegal rectified spirit] is coming from, Tamil Nadu police will go after the source and crush it.”
The police seized 15,911 litres of rectified spirit, a container lorry, a goods carrier, two cars, two vans and a two-wheeler. The suspects had modified a container lorry and concealed a tank in it for transporting the spirit.