Nellore: The animosity between former smugglers and woodcutters and those currently involved in smuggling of red sanders have all been coming in handy for police to plan and execute raids to apprehend smugglers before they could move the logs to the neighbouring states. Most of the old offenders have turned police informers because of envy or their demands for a cut in the revenue are not met by the smugglers. Police officers involved in investigating the cases say that a majority of the smugglers have been confined to jails. Only 15 about per cent of old time smugglers are active now.
New breed of smugglers has been coming up with assistance ans support of those in the illegal trade and those working as drivers and pilots for vehicles transporting red sander logs. They are attracted to smuggling activity because of high demand for red sander logs in international market especially in China.
The top line smugglers languishing in jails are aware of these activities from persons coming to meet them. Some of them have been helping police with information.
A senior police officer said smugglers and woodcutters in AP are wary of the involvement of thenew entrants in the illegal activity following number of cases filed against them. The operations are being carried out by woodcutters and smugglers from Tamil Nadu now. The attraction is Rs 60,000 to Rs 70,000 revenue each woodcutter is making each time they enter the forest. Moreover, their lives are insured and families are being taken care of by the smugglers if they are injured or jailed.
Blaming the Tamil Nadu police for not preventing the woodcutters from venturing into AP, he alleged that the TN police has some understanding with smugglers while pointing to the incidents where they resisted AP police from arresting the accused involved in smuggling. He said some of the smugglers have fixed CCTV cameras outside their houses in Tamil Nadu to avoid being arrested by the AP police.
The output from the cameras is being monitored by their friends including some police personnel. Reacting to a question on increase in the smuggling activity in Nellore region in the last six months, a police officer said logs chopped in Kadapa area are being transported through Nellore. He said 50 per cent of red sander trees are in the forest area of Kadapa, 25 per cent in Chittoor and 25 per cent in Nellore and Kurnool districts while there are hardly any trees left in Nellore region....