The Excise Department has laid its hands on one of the biggest drug rackets in the State when it seized 761 kg ganja from a truck at Walayar near here on Wednesday night.
Although the initial estimation of the contraband was 1,000 kg, excise officials clarified here on Thursday that the seized ganja weighed 761 kg. “Still this is the biggest seizure from a vehicle in the State. We have made several seizures from godowns and other places, but not so much from a vehicle,” said Excise Deputy Commissioner Shaji S. Rajan.
The ganja in packets of two kg each was found stacked in secret chambers in the truck. It was reportedly brought from Visakhapatnam for wholesale distribution in Kerala. The truck was heading for Ernakulam.
An excise team led by Mr. Rajan arrested three persons: Fayas and Badusha from Melattur, and Jishnu from Kattappana.
Acting on a tip-off, the excise team laid its hands on one of the biggest drug rackets in the State. Those arrested were involved in transporting the drugs from the ganja fields in Andhra Pradesh to a wholesale distributor in Kochi. Mr. Rajan said they had information about the kingpin of the racket. The excise team was monitoring the movements of those involved.
Valued at ₹95 crore
The seized ganja is valued at ₹95 crore. In the post-COVID-19 scenario, local distributors are selling small packets weighing eight gm of ganja for about ₹1,000. Youngsters who lost jobs during the lockdown necessitated by the pandemic have increasingly turned to bulk transport of ganja from Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
Although illegal and dangerous, the easy and quick money involved in the trade has attracted several youngsters into ganja business. All the three arrested from Walayar on Wedesday night were youngsters.
The profit of ganja business is roughly 10 to 12 times the investment. It costs ₹8,000 to ₹10,000 a kg at ganja fields in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. A cheaper variety of ganja is available for ₹5,000 a kg as well.
Keralites involved in ganja trade based in Idukki shifted their focus to Andhra Pradesh following a crackdown in Idukki a few years ago.
Sources said some Malayalis were now directly involved in the cultivation of ganja in some Maoist infested areas in the south-eastern States.
Excise officers said they had limitations in extending their follow-up actions beyond the State borders. However, they had succeeded in effectively placing informers in drug sources and within the networks.