Sandalwood smugglers have struck yet again in Coimbatore, within few months in this year. This time, they have axed down and smuggled a well-grown sandalwood tree in Peelamedu area.
On Thursday morning, the passerby noticed a roadside sandalwood tree remained chopped at Poonga Nagar, near Coimbatore International Airport, in Peelamedu. Immediately, they alerted the Peelamedu police, who then inspected the area.
The police suspect the incident to have happened on Wednesday night and launched a probe to trace the culprits. On receiving information, the forest department staff also inspected the spot and joined inquiries.
Police are scanning the images recorded in CCTVs fixed in the neighbourhood buildings to trace the culprits. The forest department is also inquiring if the sandalwood tree has been registered with the department as mandated.
Since Coimbatore is dotted with sandalwood trees, smugglers have been striking quite often. “These sandalwood trees are mostly smuggled to oil factories located in neighbouring Kerala. In most cases, the smugglers have gone scot-free due to lack of evidence and are yet to be nabbed,” said a police officer.
A few months ago, the gangs have struck close to the Collector’s bungalow at Race Course and the Corporation’s VOC Park as well. On October 28, the Race Course police arrested Vinod Kumar, 29, a native of Theni district for attempting to smuggle a sandalwood tree.
Inquiries revealed that he was involved in as many as 11 incidents of sandalwood smuggling in Coimbatore and was booked for the offence.