Bengaluru, May 19, 2019: Warehouses of travel agencies across Bengaluru are under police scanner after the Central Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths busted a red sanders smuggling racket in which an organised syndicate procured and stored the wood in the warehouses and, later, transported it across India.
Mubarak, a clerk working with National Travels, is among the 13 arrested when the CCB raided a few godowns and seized four tonnes of red sanders worth Rs 3.5 crore on Friday.
Talking about the modus operandi, police said that Mubarak, who worked at the parcel section, would receive instructions from kingpin Abdul Rasheed (48), a native of Puttur, South Canara, about the logistics of the operation. Mubarak was also in constant touch with another accused Zubair, police said.
“Their communications were mostly on app-based voice calls. They did not use the telecom service provider as they knew that such calls could be tapped by the police,” said Alok Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime). According to the police, Mubarak was in touch with two other persons in Mumbai and Chennai, and are probing if they were also associated with National Travels.
The accused would procure red sanders from their contacts in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra and would use private couriers to smuggle red sanders to a village on the outskirts of the city.
The accused would then store the goods at their godowns in Doddanagamangala and Huskur for packing it.
The packed consignments of red sanders would then be couriered to Chennai and Mumbai through private transport to their contacts to ports from where they will be exported to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and China through sea and air routes, the police said.
Teams of CCB sleuths have been tracking the entry and exit of red sanders in and out of the city over the past two months. Due to 2019 Lok Sabha elections, where the authorities increased vehicle checking, movements of red sanders were halted for a while, but soon after the elections the movement slowly started, the CCB said.
The racket was busted on Friday when a police team based on a tip-off nabbed a person identified as MS Basha, who was waiting for private transport at Vinayaka Nagar to load seven cartons of red sanders weighing 500 kg.
Based on his confession, the police raided the godown at Doddanagamangala and seized 3,500 kg of Red Sanders which was ready to be dispatched, Alok Kumar said.