[The Hindu] CHITTOOR, December 2: The Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) and the Kadapa police on Tuesday evening arrested four international red sanders smugglers, including two Chinese and two Tibetans, and three of their associates from Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.
The search party also seized logs worth over Rs. 15 lakh, Indian currency of Rs. 10,000 and foreign currency (US, Vietnam, Malaysia and China) worth over several lakhs, cellphones and an SUV. All the seven were arrested while they were operating at Dowlathapuram Cross of Chennur mandal of Kadapa district on NH-4.
Officer on Special Duty (Operations – Kadapa) Mr. Rahul Dev Sharma, addressing the media at the District Police Office at Kadapa, said the operation was conducted on the direction of the RSASTF chief and DIG Mr. M. Kantha Rao.
The accused are Zhang Xi (34) and Su Lei (27) of Hunan province, China; Passang Tsering (37) and Sonam Tsering (27) from Tibet but operating from New Delhi; Manish Pal Luthra (31) from New Delhi and Raghunath Dhangar (32) and Mukesh Das Biragi (31) of Ratlam District, Madhya Pradesh.
The official said Zhang Xi was a salesman at Power Banks, a cell phone company in China. He made friends with Ling Ping Cheng of China who has a red sanders furniture manufacturing unit at Putian city, Hujian State, China. He encouraged Zhang Xi to smuggle red sanders logs from India to China.
Getting attracted to easy money, he visited New Delhi five times, apart from several places in the country. During his visits, he developed contacts with the other accused and several other smugglers across the country, including the notorious Hasan Bhai of New Delhi, recently arrested by the Kadapa police.
He is confessed to have smuggled out nearly 38 tonnes of logs in eight months to China. He used to procure a tonne for Rs. 25 lakh and dispose it for over Rs. 1 crore internationally. In this process, Zhang Xi befriended his Tibetan and Indian counterparts in smuggling. The Tibetans were formerly priests in Buddhist monasteries.
After purchasing the logs, the smugglers would route them by covering them with coconut fibre through Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and Tibet and finally crossing into China. Coming to the sea route, they used Kolkata port to reach Hong Kong and later to China. The gang also used air routes to smuggle red sanders in small quantities.