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Four arrested in Chhattisgarh with marijuana worth Rs 30 crore

Drugs were being brought into state; shows how Maoist-hit regions are used for drug trade: DRI

mumbai Updated: Sep 15, 2018 00:51 IST
Pratik Salunkhe
Pratik Salunkhe
Hindustan Times
mumbai news,Chhattisgarh,marijuana
The DRI, which conducted the raid near the Maharashtra border, said two tonnes of marijuana was brought to Bastar. (HT Photo)

Four men heading to Maharashtra with a truckload of marijuana, which is worth ₹30 crore in the international market, were arrested in Bastar in Chhattisgarh on Friday.

The Mumbai zonal unit of the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI), which conducted the raid near the Maharashtra border, said two tonnes of marijuana was brought to Bastar from Odisha’s Maoist-hit Malkangiri.

“The marijuana was being brought to Bastar, from where it was to be distributed in Maharashtra and other northern states,” said a high-ranking officer of the Central agency who is privy to the investigation

The operation lasted for ten hours during the intervening night of Thursday and Friday. The arrest of the driver, Viddu Krisani, led them to the three others – Baldev Gupta, the mastermind wanted by Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa police and his two accomplices Chandrashekhar Shivnare and Shivshankar Gupta – who were hiding in the vicinity. “Baldev is the supplier, while Chandrashekhar and Shivshankar coordinate with Viddu,” he said.

Considered the epicentre of cannabis cultivation in Odisha, Malkangiri district is frequented by traders from various parts of the country. Investigations revealed the trade is carried out by locals in the hills which are remotely located.

In June, Mumbai DRI arrested five, including a father-son for transporting marijuana from Malkangiri to Bastar. “The statements of the accused revealed how drug traders pay Maoists who provide them safe escorts from the hills to the national highway,” said the officer.

DRI investigations revealed the involvement of a chain of people. “We are trying to find the initial source of the contraband,” said the officer, adding the manufacturers, carriers, sellers and peddlers maintain utmost secrecy, making it difficult to crack down.

According to agencies, Maoists use local tribals for cultivation, taking advantage of the geography and unapproachability. Middlemen and drug peddlers then transport the contraband. “Both the origin and destination are Maoist-affected regions. The accused opt for these areas as enforcement agencies desist from intercepting them.”

First Published: Sep 15, 2018 00:51 IST