Hyderabad: Is the city fast turning into a transit halt for peddlers smuggling marijuana (ganja) from agency areas near Visakhapatnam to Mumbai and other cities in Maharashtra?
The number of cases booked by the city police and the Prohibition and Excise department against peddlers has gone up (see info box) in 2016 compared with 2015, indicating at how gangs are utilising their hideouts in the city to transport marijuana to other States, police say.
Some peddlers are smuggling the contraband in trucks in which they create a separate layer from the base to hide the material and cover it with vegetables from Visakhapatnam. Before entering the city, the gang members enquire about police presence and reach their hideouts, especially farmhouses, on the suburbs through the Outer Ring Road (ORR).
A few gangs are transporting marijuana in SUVs and trolleys while others are bringing it in trains by stuffing the material into gunny bags. In a majority of instances, peddlers manage to hoodwink the police and successfully bring the contraband here.
In some cases, DRI officials intercepted vehicles transporting marijuana based on specific intelligence inputs. In two rackets that were busted recently, the DRI seized more than 2,000kg of marijuana.
A lorry containing 814 kg of marijuana was seized from Sujatha Gardens farmhouse at Palmakula village near Shamshabad in late December. The consignment was meant to be delivered to their agents in Mumbai.
In another racket busted last Sunday, the DRI officials nabbed a truck driver, T Srinivas Rao, for transporting as many as 1,000 kg of marijuana concealed beneath a load of cabbages. Authorities are yet to nab others involved in the case.
Peddlers from Dhoolpet are bringing consignment in gunny bags each weighing over 20 kg in trains, according to Assistant Excise Superintendent N Anjireddy.
He said the department has neutralised several gang members by taking stern action against them. The Preventive Detention (PD) Act was also invoked against two members a few days ago.
He said the reason behind gangs frequently visiting agency areas was that villagers in at least 13 mandals grow marijuana in hundreds of acres as police hesitate to raid these places because of Maoist presence. Even many peddlers from Tamil Nadu frequent these agency areas to purchase marijuana.