The police have seized 4.90 tonnes of turmeric and seized a mini lorry even as the spice was about to be smuggled to Sri Lanka from Kaayalpattinam near Tiruchendur on Tuesday.

Police said surveillance and patrolling along the Thoothukudi coastline had been intensified to thwart the attempts to smuggle turmeric, beedi leaves, ganja and other narcotic substances to Sri Lanka. Since a kg of turmeric reportedly fetches ₹ 5,000 due to sharp rise in demand, smuggling of the aromatic substance from Thoothukudi has increased manifold in the recent past.

As the Sub-Inspector of Kulasekarapattinam Marine Police Veerapandian received information about the smuggling of turmeric from Kaayalpattinam, the team went to the coastal hamlet on Monday night. After parking their vehicle deep inside the village, the police personnel were deployed at different points to monitor movements of the smugglers.

In the early hours, a mini lorry carrying the bags containing turmeric came to the Kaayalpattinam beach and the driver, who got down from the vehicle, signalled the persons in a fiber-glass boat anchored at a distance in the sea. When the boat reached the shores, the police team tried to trap them. However, they started the boat and managed to escape while the lorry driver Balamurugan of Tiruchendur was nabbed.

The police also seized turmeric worth ₹7 lakh packed in 140 bags, each weighing about 35 kg.

The seized turmeric, mini lorry and Balamurugan, were handed over to Department of Customs for further investigation.

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