Phulbani: In a first, Phulbani Town police Monday seized at least 3.59 gram brown sugar during a raid at Penjisahi under Sadar police limits in Kandhamal district, the hub for cannabis.
Police have arrested Sapan Kumar Mahapatra, 25, of Forest Colony in Phulbani in this connection after registering a case (103/22). Further probe is underway, police said.
While Kandhamal has a bad name for ganja plantation and smuggling, this is the first ever seizure of brown sugar in the district, said sources. The incident has triggered panic among the residents who fear the hand of a big racket behind the smuggling.
Reports said brown sugar was smuggled from Khurda district, which is known as a drugs hub. The racket might be active in neighbouring districts of Nayagarh and Boudh while being smuggled to Kandhamal, fear the locals.
According to sources, Kandhamal SP Vinit Agarwal was tipped about the smuggling of brown sugar. On his orders, Sadar SDPO Mahendra Nath Murmu and IIC Sushant Kumar Sethy formed a special team and kept track of Sapan.
On Monday morning, the team conducted a raid and nabbed Sapan while he was going on a motorcycle (OD-12E-4114). During probe, Sapan admitted to smuggling brown sugar from Khurda district. This apart, he is also involved in smuggling of other contraband.
“We have registered a case in this connection and are looking into all angles like how he brought the drugs to Kandhamal, his customers, his suppliers and his aides, if any. We are on the lookout for the mastermind of the drugs supply,” said SDPO Murmu.
Notably, the Special Task Force of the Crime Branch had seized over 1kg of brown sugar, worth over Rs 1 crore, during a raid in Khurda Sunday. Similarly, STF had seized 2.058kg brown sugar worth nearly Rs 2.05 crore following a raid near AIIMS Hospital, Bhubaneswar while another consignment of brown sugar worth Rs 1.20 crore was seized at Baramunda in the month of May.
Police suspect there is a huge racket behind brown sugar supply who have now reached Kandhamal district. It is pertinent to mention here that the STF is carrying out a special drive against the drugs trade.