The Ernakulam Excise circle office on Friday arrested a man with 5.58 kg of ganja from near the North railway station.
Sankaranarayana Swami, 43, of Kadalur district in Tamil Nadu had been on the radar of the shadow team of the circle office.
Excise Circle Inspector Anwar Sadat had received a tip-off four days ago that the accused had left for Andhra Pradesh to purchase the narcotic. He was arrested shortly after arriving at the North station. His mobile phone was also seized.
The Excise claimed that the accused who used to go for fishing from Ernakulam and Kollam had smuggled in ganja before. He reportedly confessed to have procured the narcotic two months ago at ₹18,000.
With the lockdown disrupting liquor availability, there seems to be a greater demand for ganja, and the accused reportedly eyed to exploit it. Small satchels of ganja previously sold at ₹500 now fetch anywhere between ₹700 and ₹1,000, Excise officials said.
The accused reportedly used to engage migrant workers to sell the narcotic at a commission of ₹100 per satchel. There was a shortage in ganja availability owing to disrupted train services and hence he travelled to Andhra Pradesh to procure it.
The Excise Department claimed that ganja was procured from the Maoist-infested areas of Andhra Pradesh. Agents approach potential clients at Chintapalle bus station in Visakhapatnam and take them deep into the forest on a commission.
Initially, the clients are served a sample, and if found satisfactory, the deal is fixed and a price is agreed on, the Excise said.
A team led by Preventive Officer T.M. Vinod, Civil Excise Officers Anas, Reni, Deepu, and Thomas James and driver Suresh made the arrest.
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