AP fights to stifle ganja trade; Cannabis smugglers make new of business

The SEB and the Rural police have seized 1.20 lakh kg of ganja, probably the highest seizure in the country, in 1,087 cases.

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  1 Jan 2022 12:06 PM GMT
AP fights to stifle ganja trade; Cannabis smugglers make new of business

Have you heard of ganja smugglers running their business through an e-commerce site? Well, that is happening in Andhra Pradesh. While the Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) is cracking down on cannabis smuggling, smugglers are coming up with different modus operandi. The SEB and the Rural police have seized 1.20 lakh kg of ganja, probably the highest seizure in the country, in 1,087 cases.

In one such case, the SEB busted a ganja smuggling racket that was running through Amazon. Ganja was being sold online from Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The SEB officials seized 48 kg of ganja from the main accused, Srinivasa Rao, and his son Mohan Raju who were operating out of a rented house in the Kancharapalem area of Vizag. They were supplying ganja to online vendors who were selling stevia leaves when in reality they were also selling ganja. "We have arrested eight persons so far and are searching for one most-wanted smuggler. We found that they have been running their business through an e-commerce site for about six months and have sold nearly 800 kg ganja. Smuggling through e-commerce sites is the new modus operandi and we are trying to crackdown on ganja smuggling," said SEB joint director S. Satish Kumar.

Easy way to make money

Visakhapatnam agency is the major base for ganja cultivation and smuggling to different states and countries. In 2021, the AP police arrested 4,606 persons from 16 states across the country for their involvement in ganja smuggling. Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra, and Karnataka are the top five states from where ganja smugglers are operating. The number of cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in Andhra Pradesh doubled in 2021 when compared to 2020.

Speaking to NewsMeter, Mr. Satish Kumar said, "For many in the agency area, ganja cultivation has become the easiest way of earning quick money. From one acre land, they can earn upto Rs. 5-6 lakh. These tribals are also getting financial help for the crop from investors in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala."

Tribal youth play a major role in transporting ganja from the agency border to other states. They are paid Rs. 5,000 for one time.

Police crackdown and Operation Parivartana

Over the years, the AP police in coordination with the police from Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, and a few other states have nabbed some key persons in the ganja trade and managed to neutralize organized networks. "The Special Enforcement Bureau, with the support of various departments, has destroyed ganja crop in more than 7,500 acres of land in various tribal pockets of Vizag agency. The SEB launched a combined operation even in the Maoist-affected areas and succeeded to a large extent. Apart from the arrest of ganja smugglers and destruction of the ganja plants, we have identified and profiled ganja smugglers operating from other states by analyzing technical and human intelligence," said Andhra Pradesh director-general of police D. Gautam Sawang.

The AP police's coordinated operation to root out ganja cultivation and smuggling has even caught the attention of the Union government which is going to launch an AP model operation across the country to curb the drugs trade.

The state police also launched 'Operation Parivartana' with an aim to root out ganja cultivation in the tribal pockets of the district and encourage the tribals to go for alternative, profitable crops such as ginger, turmeric, and horticulture.

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