Telangana: Ganja smugglers employing new ways to evade arrests

The Congress government, after coming to power, has stepped-up the action against the drug menace, and as part of that, hundreds of kilos of ganja is being caught every day.

Hyderabad: Even though the city police have come down with an iron fist on the sale of marijuana (cannabis) or Ganja, the intoxicating plant smugglers have found new ways to evade them, by using different nameplates of vehicles of different states. Thanks to the new tactic, they are transporting the banned substance across borders from Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa.

Telangana is known to be the gateway of the narcotic drug that comes from as far as Odisha, the Naxal-infested Andhra-Odisha border, and the Bhadrachalam agency area. Due to Telangana having borders with most of these states, the flow of cannabis has been more at the borders, said officials.

As reported, smugglers have been using vehicles from Karnataka, Delhi, and West Bengal, using dummy number plates till they cross the Andhra-Odisha border, and into Telangana using a vehicle with the local number plate while transporting it within the state.

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Zaheerabad is one staging area, where smugglers dump Ganja in the agricultural fields on the outskirts of the town, and the forest area of Gottamgutta, from where they are transported to their next destinations. The district borders Karnataka and has the advantage of lying on the national highway (NH-65), which has been identified as a major crossing point by the police. From here, cannabis is being smuggled to Bidar and Gulbarga in Karnataka, Nanded, Solapur and Mumbai in Maharashtra, and Goa.

Earlier Narayankhed used to be one such staging area, where Ganja used to be grown as well. During the previous Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) regime, steps were taken to curb the cultivation of the plants in the fields, where marijuana used to be cultivated inside maize, cotton and other fields. Farmers used to grow marigold plants alongside cannabis, as the leaves of both plants look similar in shape and colour. After many raids, cannabis cultivation in Narayankhed was brought under control between 2014 and 2018.

Moreover, smugglers are also changing their phones in every state. Just like police check-posts, they have their own check-posts in every state, just to ensure the safe transit of the hemp plant, which is sometimes mixed with its mother plant in the sealed packing. The drivers are paid heavily, and the smugglers are procuring the drug at a cost ranging between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000 per kg at the source, and selling it for around Rs 30,000 in Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The Congress government, after coming to power, has stepped up the action against the drug menace, and as part of that, hundreds of kilos of Ganja are being caught every day. An inter-state collaborative effort is underway, with the higher-ups in the narcotics bureaus of all these states involved, and also heads of their other wings, having already held high-level meetings to curb the drug menace.

Recently, smugglers tried to transport cannabis through the outer-ring road (ORR) near Patancheru, where they were intercepted by the police. The smugglers fled the scene, only to be caught by the police near Isnapur after a chase. The police have increased their surveillance in view of the ever-changing strategies being employed by the Ganja smuggling gangs.

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