Visakhapatnam: The rural police in coordination with their counterparts of neighboring states have intensified the hunt to track down kingpins of ganja smuggling gangs.
Vizag ganja, famous for its sheelvati brand, has reached far corners of the country. It is now being sold on the streets of Hyderabad.
All fingers are being pointed at the Visakhapatnam agency, the main source of cannabis and its by-products. Nalgonda police firing on smugglers has caught the attention of the entire nation. Much of the blame was put on Vizag police for not catching the ring leaders.
"We are not far behind. We launched a special operation to nab kingpins last year. We broke many chains by arresting key players,'' said superintendent of police B Krishna Rao.
He said in the last one year, they booked nearly 500 cases and arrested more than 1,000 smugglers including ring leaders from different states.
Sources in the police department said most of the ganja smugglers hail from Tamil Naidu, Odisha, Hyderabad, and Maharashtra. Sources said cops catch the tail-enders, book a case and forget. They also said the catch was less than 30 percent of the total harvest.
Social activists said innocent tribal and women laborers were being sent to jail for possessing the contraband. However, the main leaders were escaping the net by bribing police and special enforcement bureau personnel.
"Whichever party comes to power, the leaders immediately join hands with the smugglers and make money," said M Rajababu, vice chairman of Joint Action Committee of Adivasi unions.
Ganja smugglers buy the weed in the tribal pockets at Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 a kg. They used to sell it for Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 a kg in the big cities. Police said some ganja smugglers are procuring LSD and few other drugs by exchanging the weed in Goa and Mumbai.