ANDHRA PRADESH

Red sanders worth Rs. 1 crore seized

A combing party of the Andhra Pradesh Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (APRSASTF) on Saturday seized 1.50 tonnes of red sanders logs at Bhimavaram valley in Seshachalam hills, 25 km from Tirupati.

The logs were left behind by around 25 smuggling operatives from Tamil Nadu who managed to escape in the cover of darkness after pelting stones at the raiding team.

Addressing a press conference at the Task Force office at Tirupati, Superintendent of Police (Task Force) Ravi Shankar said that acting on reliable information that some Tamil Nadu-based smuggling operatives had entered the Seshachalam hills, a combing party led by Inspectors M. Vasu and P. Bhaskar was pressed into action three days ago.

“After a three-day-long operation, the combing party detected movements of the operatives in Bhimavaram valley, carrying 34 red sanders logs and negotiating the forest terrain while exiting the hills,” the SP said. Though the operatives tried to resist the operation by pelting stones at the combing party, they had to finally abandon the logs and flee the valley. The combing party recovered the logs and shifted them to the Task Force office at Tirupati.

In view of the police surveillance on highways and curtailing the movement of public from Tamil Nadu, the smuggling operatives reached the Seshachalam foothills on two-wheelers all the way from the north-western districts of Tamil Nadu. The middlemen of the smuggling syndicate would arrange their transport.

“Two operatives would be carried on each bike (triple riding) by charging Rs. 2,500 for each person. Upon entering the hills, the batches would linger around for a month with provisions supplied through locally arranged logistics. After a lull of a couple of months, the movement of smugglers has once again commenced,” said Inspector M. Vasu.

Meanwhile, the Task Force SP had formed special teams to continue combing operations at vulnerable points in Seshachalam hills to flush out the operatives.

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