In a major arrest, the Kadapa police in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday night nabbed international red sanders smuggler AT Maideen alias ATM, (50), along with his aides Jabbar Sadiq (50)and Kamal Basha (51) at Budwel Road Junction in Mydukuru.
AT Maideen is said to be a close associate of international smugglers Sahul Hameed alias Sahul Bhai of Dubai and Kollam Gangi Reddy.
District SP Babujee said that ATM was into red sanders smuggling from the last 20 years and confessed to have smuggled 3,000 tonnes of red sanders to foreign countries, TOI reported.
The TOI report also adds that Maideen hails from Nagur town in Nagapattanam district of Tamil Nadu, and worked at a tea stall in Andaman Islands after he failed Class 10. After starting 'Maideen Exports and Imports' in Chennai in 1990, he developed contacts with international smugglers.
Two luxury cars, two sedans and a pickup van worth Rs 1.23 crore, along with 1.10 tonnes of red sander logs, 12 cheque books, 11 ATM cards, a briefcase and four cellphones were seized from the trio, The Hindu reported.
The SP presented the accused before media persons, and said that ATM played a key role in smuggling red sanders from India to China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Malaysia, Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.
Police have identified properties belonging to Maideen worth of Rs 77.5 crore located in Nagapattinam district, Chennai and Puducherry, PTI reported.
Last month, a special police team from Kadapa arrested another international red sanders smuggler Kandaswamy Parthiban( 46), and three other smugglers belonging to Tamil Nadu, from Mount Road in Chennai and seized 21 logs weighing 638 kg.
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 auctioned later by the state.