The Andhra Pradesh police arrested 34 persons on Saturday, which included 31 woodcutters and smugglers, along with three RTC bus drivers from Andhra and Tamil Nadu and in three separate incidents.
All the arrested were involved in red sanders smuggling in Andhra's Kadapa district.
39 logs of the rare wood, that weighed 1.1 tonnes, along with 18 cellphones and other valuables were seized, the police said.
"The accused were trying to cut the felled trees and transport them in SUVs. Following our raids, a few woodcutters fled from the spot...The RTC drivers were being paid Rs 1,000 for transporting the woodcutters without the knowledge of the police, forest and other forces as well as dropping them at the point of their desire in the forest area" Kadapa additional SP (operations) B Satya Yesubabu, the police carried out simultaneous raids on a tip off at three different places.
The police said that the RTC drivers who belong to Kavali depot were assisting the woodcutters from Tamil Nadu by allowing them to travel in the RTC buses.
Other reports stated that the woodcutters and smugglers belonged to Tamil Nadu and were from the districts of Vellore, Thiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri and Tirupur.
Red sanders are indigenous to the Eastern Ghats in Andhra and grow mainly in the Seshachalam hill ranges spread across Chittoor and Kadapa districts in the Rayalaseema region.
The wood has a huge demand abroad, especially in China and Japan.
The Andhra government often seizes several tonnes of logs every year during combing operations by special forces in the forests.
The logs are often auctioned later by the state.
There are three grades of logs based on the quality of the wood - Grade A is sold for around Rs 1.5 crore per tonne, Grade B for around Rs 55 lakh and and Grade C fetches between Rs 15-35 lakh.