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A forest official holding an enquiry with the red sander smugglers detained by the department in Tirupati on Monday.
TIRUPATI: In a big haul, the Forest Department has zeroed in on 60 red sander smugglers after a hot chase at Srivarimettu near Tirupati in the early hours of Monday.
On being tipped off about the smuggling activity in the forests abutting the Tirumala hills, the forest sleuths surrounded the smugglers who were transporting the precious red wood in Srivarimettu area. When the panicky smugglers tried to attack the forest guards, the latter fired in the air to quell the mob. With the scattered gang dispersing in different directions, the guards once again surrounded them and took 60 of them into custody. The smugglers, along with the 148 logs weighing 4.8 tonnes, were brought to the office of the Divisional Forest Officer in Kapila Theertham compound here and locked up in two rooms.
It was not immediately known whether the group of detainees contained just hired labourers or the masterminds, as the senior officials were hearing them individually.
Conservator of Forest (Tirupati Wildlife Management Circle) P.V. Chalapathi Rao and Divisional Forest Officer Ramakrishna are investigating the case.
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